Game Preview #6: Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs

The Maglev has left the station. You'd better get used to it, Findog.

After the last 2 games went horribly awry, the Spurs need a win to tread water. Let me just say it up front: I think they'll get that win tonight. But how will it go down? That's why we watch.

Join us after the jump for your preview.

In the last game, we learned that the new-look Spurs are capable of playing defense, thanks in large part to the efforts of Keith Bogans. Pop started the Bogeyman, who hounded Brandon Roy defensively early in the game, and even managed to hit half his shots on the offensive end. With that in mind, I think he'll get the start again, and be assigned to pester rookie DeMar DeRozan. Pop might also start Manu if he's concerned about our starting unit's offensive production. Another new starter is George Hill, but that is definitely not the result of Pop's experimentation. Tony Parker is out, and while we all hope his ankle heals soon, the Spurs are going to have to compete without him for a few games. George's defense should help to make up for his relative lack of offensive prowess.

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Toronto Raptors @ San Antonio Spurs
Where: AT&T Center - San Antonio, TX
When: November 9, 2009, 7:30 PM Spurs time
Watch: FSN SW(San Antonio); RTV(Toronto)


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How They Stack Up
2-0 Home 2-1
0-3 Road 1-2
98.8 Offense 107.0
98.2 Defense 108.2
46.7 FG% 47.4
31.6 3-pt% 40.7
73.4 FT% 74.7
39.0 Rebounds 41.2
12.4 TOs 11.8
2-3 Last 10 3-3
Lost 2 Streak Lost 1
3rd, Southwest Position 3rd, Atlantic

Country/Time Zone Game Time
Argentina 10:30 PM
West Coast 5:30 PM
Philippines 8:30 AM
Central Europe 2:30 AM
Palestine/Egypt 2:30 AM
Least Coast 8:30 PM
Colorado/Arizona 6:30 PM
Perth, AUS 8:30 AM
Tokyo, JP 9:30 AM
Sydney, AUS 11:30 AM

Spurs
(2-3)
Matchups

Raptors
(3-3)

George Hill
Cubits

Point Guard

With all the things I had to say about Parker's absence being a net positive for the Spurs, this game will be a trial by fire for George. A very, very intense fire. Calderon is quite possibly the most underrated PG in the league. This season, he's off to a slow start by his standards, but you won't find his contributions on any normal stat sheet. He's deceptively effective, with a very high b-ball IQ - much like a certain Argentine we all adore(and who might see some minutes at the point as well). Keep an eye on this, because Calderon is smart enough to spot any weakness in George's game and exploit it.

Advantage: Raptors


Jose Calderon
Smart Player

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Manu Ginobili
The Batman

Shooting Guard

DeRozan is a promising rookie, and the Raptors made a good choice by drafting him. He's quick, and has the length of a SF, even though the Raps use him at the 2 spot. He's a guy that has a lot of tools in his arsenal, but doesn't have one go-to skill that gives him an advantage over everyone yone else(much like our own Malik Hairston). Speaking of Hairston, he should be on the active roster for the first time all season - maybe we'll have our first Malik sighting of the year. Oh and Manu is definitely better than any SG Toronto has to throw at us.

Advantage: Spurs


DeMar DeRozan
Newbie

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Richard Jefferson
Overpaid

Small Forward

Hedo certainly has changed from the timid player he was when he wore the silver and black. A more confident style of play helped Orlando reach the finals last season, and earned him a huge payday in the offseason. He's the complete opposite of RJ in terms of style, which means it's a mismatch on both ends. Hedo's more of a finesse player, while Rage is at his best when he's driving the lane and attacking the rim(see video below). Both of them are learning how they fit with their new teams, and haven't been as effective as they will probably end up being by the end of the year. This is close, but RJ has looked like he's finding himself as of late.

Advantage: Spurs


Hedo Turkoglu
Slightly Less Overpaid

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Tim Duncan
Where's My Ice Thrown?

Power Forward

Timmy clearly hasn't been himself so far this season, while Bosh is looking better than he ever has. He's been a monster so far, and is even sinking the occasional 3-ball(he's shooting 100% from deep). He's been the best PF in the league thus far, according to Hollinger(check out #7, too). But Timmeh is cunning, and will probably find a way to limit him, even if he can't jump over a lima bean. And DeBeast is going to eat Amir Johnson's lunch.

Advantage: Tied


Chris Bosh
Mark Cuban is Salivating

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Antonio McDyess
Look Ma, I Can Shoot

Center

Speaking of Toronto big men having career years, check Bargs out. Go back to that link for Hollinger's PER listings, and look at #9. He takes a lot of long-range shots like Mehmet Okur, and he makes them at a devastating clip. But unlike Okur, his game doesn't end there. He's also a good rebounder, and even blocks shots. Dice has a nice mid-range game, and Bonner has a nice 3-point stroke(sometimes), but both of them are vastly overmatched. Bargs is finally looking as if he may have been worth that #1 overall pick the Raps used to get him. This is our worst mismatch on the floor, and not even Theo Ratliff can defend this guy's inside-out game.

Advantage: Raptors


Andrea Bargnani
Okur 2.0

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Dejuan Blair
The Beast

Bench & Role Players

Since we can't possibly hope to stop the Raptors' ridiculous frontcourt tandem, maybe a different strategy is worth a try. Toronto really has nobody outside of Bosh who can defend Dejuan, and he can help us play keep-away on the boards. This is probably his best opportunity to give us a boost so far(think foul trouble for their bigs) in the young season, and I hope Pop lets him take advantage. For Toronto, Jarrett Jack gets a lot of minutes off the bench, but that's just an indicator of a weak bench. For us, there's too many guys to mention, but everyone knows we're deep already. As an aside, we might see Rasho get some minutes at some point tonight, especially if Dejuan gives them hell.

Advantage: Spurs


Jarrett Jack
Less Than Photogenic

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Gregg Popovich
GOML

Coach

Look, I have no idea who Jay Triano even is. That alone is enough to give Pop the nod here.

Advantage: Spurs


Jay Triano
Uhh... Who?
images via yahoo.com

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Other Factors

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Intangibles

We're undefeated at home, and Toronto is finishing up a pretty nasty road trip. Advantage: Spurs

Mojo

Toronto got taken to the woodshed(to quote Sean Elliot) on Saturday by the Mavs. They're going to be angry. But we're going to be even more angry, and desperate. Advantage: Spurs

Winner: Spurs

Yeah, I get the feeling we're going to trounce them. Even without Tony, we still have an amazing array of weapons to throw at them, plus we play the game on both ends of the floor. Prediction: 110-93, Spurs

Keys To The Game

  • Defense - The Raptors haven't played much defense so far this year. In fact, they're giving up more points than any Eastern Conference team not coached by Mike D'Antoni. Even without Tony, our guys shouldn't have a problem putting points on the board. So if we can get a decent amount of stops, we win. It's really that simple.
  • Passing - Without our best point guard, the rest of the guys are going to have to know where each other are, and make the right decisions. George will never be the great passer that Tony and Manu are, but the Spurs have enough good passers to put up a lot of points.
  • Making Our Threes - There's going to be a lot of open looks tonight. It goes without saying that our long-range shooting has been atrocious so far this year, but we have the personnel to correct that. The rims have been much friendlier to us in our home games, so there's that.

Last Time They Met

The Spurs and Raptors last met in Toronto on February 11th, in the infamous Roko Ukic game. Bargnani had a great game, as he probably will again, and Roger Mason was the only Spur outside of the big 3 to score more than 2 points. That was an ugly, ugly game.

Some Other Reading

Raptors

Raptors HQ - Here you'll find SB Nation's Raptors blog. Intelligent writing and good analysis abounds - go take a look.
Hoop Heads North - This is another one from the Bloguin network, like our friends over at Project Spurs. It's more of a traditional blog, but still good reading.
Raptors Republic - This is one of the busiest blogs on the TrueHoop network, and they seem to have a blog-by-committee approach, sort of like we do here.

Spurs

48 Minutes of Hell: Tim and Graydon still do their thing like nobody else on the TrueHoop Network. We're lucky to have them.
Project Spurs: These guys do a great job with multimedia content, and it's always good to get another perspective. Go say hi, they don't bite.
SpursTalk - Oh yes, I did. There are actually some intelligent people over there, if you can wade through the rampant douchiness of some of the other members.

The (sort of) Daily Twitter

manuginobili Back home after an unsuccessful trip, lots of work 2 do // De nuevo en casa después de un viaje improductivo. Mucho... http://bit.ly/3sSHkj

MoneyMase #dumbquestions do you like playing in the NBA? noooo, I hate playing bal for a living?? Coome on maan? lol

More Analysis

A while back, BlaseE did one of his great "My Team is Better Than Yours" articles on the Raptors. It's a good read, and he came to this conclusion:

I really like the moves they've made. Their starting unit will really compete and probably dominate some teams. If some young guys step up then they can have a pretty solid team, but I just don't see it. I like the Raptors and a lot of their players so I'll be rooting for them to make the playoffs, but I'm not sure they have really separated themselves from the pack despite improving. Rebounding could be the death of their team.


The Magic That Happened

Nothing bad happened! Not changing that until we win one.

Some Other Viewing

You've seen it once, you've seen it a thousand times. And you want to see it a thousand more times.

Where to Tune In

TV

This game will be televised locally in San Antonio(Fox Sports SW) and Toronto(RTV, whatever that is)

Online

As always, NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area.

Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate. In fact, nobody can stop you from googling "atdhe". You can also shoot an email to dmenendez@gmail.com for more assistance.

Spurs League Pass audio is still free this year if all else fails, so check it out.

Radio

If you're in the San Antonio area and aren't near a TV, tune in to WOAI (1200 AM).

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