The Raptors start a 3 game road stretch and face Chris Paul and the Hornets to kick it off in New Orleans. Paul is to say the least an angry young man of late. There was talk after a loss to Boston he tried to get into the Boston locker room. This is not the smiling Chris Paul that we see on those NBA Cares ads. Raptors have Jose Calderon still playing less than acceptable defense. It could be trouble given the way Chris Paul is feeling these days. Hornets are 2-3 on the young season and in the Western Conference you have to be much better than that. Hornets come in off an OT win over Dallas who the Raptors will play tomorrow night on the 2nd half of a back to back. Paul is off to an amazing personal start averaging 30 points and 8.2 assists and has been making shots from 3 point range where he is a blazing 12-15 from behind the arc. Chris Bosh has some very nice numbers as well through 4 games with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Hornets are undefeated at home despite the 2-3 record. Raps did have some recent success in New Orleans winning on New Year's Eve a couple years back. Even though Paul has been hot from 3 point range the Hornets are shooting just 35% as a team. Still Peja and Moe P are going to look to take the 3 point shot. Inside the Hornets have All-Star David West and Ex-Bobcat Emeka Oakfor. Could be a nice match-up for Andrea Bargnani.
This may be the best chance for the Raptors to get a win on this 3 game trip. However it will be far from an easy task. You can expect to see both Jack and Wright taking turns guarding Chris Paul after we see Jose Calderon get blown by a few times. The main goal for the Raptors should be to force Paul to be a scorer. He alone will not beat the Raptors unless he can get his team involved. Raps should be able to have an advantage in the front court and that is how they can win. Bosh, Bargnani and Turkoglu can all get the better of their individual match-ups. Bosh has the most difficult of the 3 going against David West. The Raptors will need to battle on the boards though as both West and Okafor are capable of having a double double on any given night. Okafor is averaging 11.2 boards a game.
It is becoming so hard what to expect from this Raptors team from game to game. One of the things they need to do is get off to a better start. On the road they can not afford to get off to slow starts. Some will say that may mean having Demar DeRozan go to the bench in favour of Wright. I still think you roll with the rookie for now. It is not like you can't have a very fast hook for him should Demar not play well. He does offer little spurts of athleticism that you do not want to see go away. Also Wright offers a defensive spark of the bench that this team badly needs. It is just 4 games into the season I am not really in favour of making any major changes to the rotation at this point. Heck we have not even get to see Reggie Evans in the rotation yet. It is not to say that this starting line-up will last the entire season. It may not but now is not the time to shuffle the deck.
The bench will be important tonight with it being the first half of a back to back. The more they can add the better it will be for tomorrow night in Dallas. It was the bench lead by Jack and Wright that got the Raps back in the game vs the Pistons. The more the Raps can get from the bench the better off they will be. They have many challenging games in this early schedule and there will be some nights that the starters are going to have to carry the load.
So will see what happens tonight as the Raps would like to get this 3 game road trip off on the right foot. Speaking of feet Reggie Evans left foot seems to be on mend and hopefully it will not be long before we get to see his regular season debut.