Raptors hope to dispel Magic in matinee matchup

November 18, 2012, 3:11 PM

The Toronto Raptors host the Orlando Magic in a matinee game on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.

Both teams have had slow starts to the season as the Magic (3-5) are learning how to play without Dwight Howard.

Here are a few things to consider ahead of the game:

1. Bargnani remains inconsistent

Questions remain about Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani.

Before he was injured last season, he was one of the best scorers in the NBA but he has started this campaign with a very stilted start.

Saturday’s loss to Boston epitomized his play. In the first half he was was largely invisible while in the third quarter he helped the Raptors remain close by scoring 11 points. He failed to score again.

Which brings me to my next points:

2. Forget Boston

Throw out the Boston game.

For whatever reason, the Raptors have always struggled in Beantown.

Sure they have been bad everywhere for the last few years but nowhere has been rougher on the Raptors than Boston.

As Mike Gantner of the Toronto Sun noted: ”The loss yesterday was No. 9 in a row here for the Raptors by an average spread of just over 14 points. The past four losses in Boston have been by an average of 24 points.”

At some point the Raptors will solve Boston, it just wasn’t Saturday.

3. Nicholson’s homecoming game

It will be a big game for Magic rookie Andrew Nicholson.

The Mississauga native will be playing his first NBA game on home soil and he is looking forward to hearing the national anthem before the game.

Programming note: Watch the Raptors take on the Magic live on Sportsnet beginning at 1 pm ET.

“It’ll be the first time I heard that during an NBA game,” Nicholson told the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m proud to be Canadian.”

Nicholson is averaging 5.9 points in 11.6 minutes per game.

4. Magic looking for right lineup

Much like the Magic, the Raptors are dealing with a couple of injuries; including Hedo Turkoglu.

With Turkoglu out, Orlando has been playing musical chairs at the small forward position between — Arron Afflalo, Josh McRoberts and DeQuan Jones, an undrafted rookie but they have yet to try rookie Moe Harkless who was a key acquisition in the Howard trade.

The Sentinel asks whether that is the right move here as it leave the Magic very small. Would be interesting to see how the 6-5 Afflalo were to deal with Bargnani if they opened with a big lineup.


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