The Raptors will try to make it three in a row tonight in Dallas and that would be huge for a number of reasons.
First off, Toronto has lost nine straight to the Mavericks in Dallas, having blown not one, but two, 24-point leads in recent losses at the American Airlines Centre. There are a bunch of other subplots to watch tonight as well considering Dallas was involved in the big trade that helped land Hedo Turkoglu in Toronto.
Shawn Marion and Kris Humphries will be out to show their old squad something as will, Antonie Wright.
Dallas is Chris Bosh’s hometown but he has never won here as a member of the Toronto Raptors and he’d like to change that tonight. If he’s been playing the way he has recently, the Raptors can expect another big night from Bosh.
OK, we’re only five games into the season and he started like a house on fire last year before cooling off, but here are some impressive numbers. Bosh is fourth in scoring, putting up just under 30 points-per-game while leading the NBA in free throw attempts (both total and average per game), and he also ranks at the top of the league in average free throws made per game.
Bosh’s added beef is seemingly helping him on the boards as well, as he sits tied for second with Dwight Howard behind Gerald Wallace. Thanks to Bosh, Toronto is second in the NBA in average free throw attempts, getting to the line 34 times per game trailing only the Denver Nuggets in that category.
It has always been said here that chemistry would be one of the biggest issues facing the Raptors and how quickly they can develop into a cohesive unit. But some players, namely Bosh and Jarrett Jack, already have a jump on the rest of the team. It was interesting to hear Jack in the locker room after the win over the Hornets talking about how he "pushes" his former Georgia Tech teammate. Jack says he doesn’t let Bosh settle for jumpers and always finds him during a timeout and gets in his ear regarding the game. The rest of the team seems to be coming together as the friendly jabs are flying across the locker room and the popular refrain seems to be "(insert name here) gimme a shout out" whenever a microphone or notepad appears in front of a teammate being interviewed.
Overall, considering the schedule a 3-2 record is not bad.
Yes they had 10 bad minutes in Memphis that cost them a game and Orlando’s three-point marksmanship did them in last Sunday, but they have wins over playoff teams from a season ago defeating Cleveland, Detroit and New Orleans.
If you want to go down the "shoulda, coulda, woulda" road, a 4-1 start would look pretty good. But easy on the parade route, let’s see how the next five games go starting tonight in Dallas followed by San Antonio, Chicago, the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix with four of them away from home.
OK folks, I have made it my mission to continue to track the 45 per cent opponent’s field goal stat for another year. It was mentioned in this space a couple of entries back that it was a rare loss to Orlando as Toronto held the Magic under 45 per cent in that game. Well, funny how things have a way of balancing out. The New Orleans Hornets shoot above the water mark at 48 per cent but the Raptors still got the win. Well, that is just as unusual as what happened with the Magic. In the past three-plus seasons, Toronto has a 29 per cent success rate when allowing the opposition to shoot above 45 per cent.
In fact, it happened only 11 times last season where the opposition shot better than 45 per cent and Toronto won the game. Consider last night an exception to the rule.
Reggie Evans was close to home last night in the Big Easy. It’s only a two-and-a-half hour drive from where he lives in the Florida panhandle and Evans, even though he wasn’t playing, had to find about 30-35 tickets for family and friends.
It will be good to see Dallas rookie guard Rodrigue Beaubois play Saturday for the Mavericks. He was discovered by Orlando’s Mickeal Pietrus at one of his camps in his native Guadeloupe.
Pietrus then helped the youngster out by taking him under his wing and bringing him to Paris to spend some time together and to mentor him. It’s interesting that the Mavericks drafted him and he coincidentally seemed to be frequently banged up or injured (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) when it was time for him to work out for other teams before last June’s draft.