San Antonio Spurs vs Toronto RaptorsAT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
December 26, 2012, 7:30 PM Spurs Time
TV: FSSW - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI
In their first game action since Christmas Day, the San Antonio Spurs host the five game streaking Toronto Raptors.
The last time these two teams faced, the Spurs escaped from "White Vegas" with a 110-106 double overtime victory, keyed by buckets from Tony Parker in the second overtime. Ed Davis had one of the best games of his young career, with 15 points and 14 rebounds, 8 on the offensive end, which, fortunately for the Spurs, was completely negated by a 2-19 performance by 2006 1st overall pick Andrea Bargnani. Which... brings me to a small rant about how the Raptors as an organization are nowhere near the Spurs in terms of building a winning team and culture.
Back in the 1990s when the Raptors were a nascent expansion team, they had built a young talented core - not unlike Oklahoma City, with high picks - netting players like Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire, starting center in the 1999 NBA Finals Marcus Camby, and high scoring, high flying cousins Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. But that core was pretty ephemeral; Stoudamire eventually found himself in Portland, Camby was traded to New York, and McGrady, wanting to be his own man, signed with the Orlando Magic, netting himself a Most Improved Player accolade and two scoring titles before wanting out again and being traded to Houston just when the franchise netted Dwight Howard. Even Carter was let go in a dramatic situation, being traded to New Jersey for players who escape me at the moment. The Toronto franchise had a chance to build a great team, and blew it.
Enter Bryan Colangelo, son of Jerry Colangelo and winner of the 2005 Executive of the Year award for netting Steve Nash for the Suns. When the 2006 Draft came along, the Raptors had the first overall pick and could have had LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Rajon Rondo, Paul Millsap, or even a guy like Tyrus Thomas. Instead Colangelo took on a "shooting big man" in Andrea Bargnani (in quotation marks because Bargnani has a career TS% of 53.8, which is okay... for a wing), a choice that at first looked good, as the Raptors made the playoffs and clinched the Atlantic Division in Bargnani's rookie season, giving the younger Colangelo his second Executive of the Year award (while the hard working R.C. Buford has none to his name!). However this was due more to players like Chris Bosh and Jorge Garbajosa and teams like the Celtics tail-spinning in the Greg Oden Draft. After Bosh left to join Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in 2010, the Raptors have had a 63-122 (.341) record, which speaks to the folly of Bargnani as a franchise player. In short, the Raptors not only make bad decisions, they also don't know when to cut their losses and accept that they've been bad.
However, the future does look bright for Raptors fans. Davis (their 2010 draft choice) is looking like a legitimate hustling big man, Jonas Valanciunas (their 2011 draft choice) is probably their best big man since Bosh, and Terrence Ross (2012 draft choice) happens to be an athletic wing who could eventually make DeMar DeRozan redundant. However, they must make sure not to repeat their mistakes of the past 15 years if they wish to gain status as a threat in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile the good guys in Silver and Black are seeking to put up some more W's in the column. They'll need them to keep it close in the neck and neck race out West. With Memphis doing a great impression of themselves from two seasons ago and the Thunder not missing a beat from last year (choke and all), the Spurs have their work cut out for them. As our own local seer has predicted, "don't be surprised if the Spurs win every game in January", well too bad January hasn't started yet, but I am guessing that our boys can handle the streaking Raptors.
Raptors perspective can be found here: Raptors HQ
Game Prediction: Spurs by 8 in a contest that looks tighter than it really is.
Game Previewers Prediction Records & points off per prediction
Wes Thorne 8-1* (-1, 0, 23, 2, -8*,1, 28, 10, 0) *@MIA
Joe deLarios 6-2 (-1, 3, 5, 0, 1, 6,-11, -3)
Fred 2-2 (3, -8, 20)
Racm 1-3 (-25, -14, -5, 15)
Stijl 1-1 (-12, 11)
CapHill 1-0 (13)
As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and 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.