Raptors head into this one well rested and and winners of 6 of the last 7. In short there are no excuses and add that Jose Calderon is likely to return off the bench tonight. Minus a surprise Reggie Evans return it will be all hands on deck. Although he is on the trip for the record. However the point is the Raptors have everything going there way heading into this one. Orlando on the other hand lost to the Pacers last night. The same Pacers that got blown out by the Knicks. Safe to say Stan Van Gundy is even grumpier than usual and you can expect a better effort from the Magic tonight. If not you can expect high entertainment watching Van Gundy just lose his mind on the sidelines. You can have your Phil Jackson or whatever coach you choose. I love Stan Van Gundy as a coach. He was robbed of a chance at a ring in Miami by Pat Riley. However he just moved upstate and kept on keeping on. Maybe it is, as frustrated as I get and Raptors fans get, I can relate to Stan Van Gundy. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and is never happy with his team. Good is not good enough in Stan Van Gundy's world. A motto that the Raptors should embrace moving forward.
Orlando has had little trouble dusting off the Raptors 3 times this season, the first two in Toronto with not a full roster. They have at times punished the Raptors from beyond the 3 point line. Raptors have not been the 3 point shooting crazy team as in the past. They still have shooters but not to the level that Orlando does. Raptors still have ability to make the 3 ball but a number of the people they count on to make that shot have not been hitting it. Jose Calderon and his return should help in that to some degree.
He will likely be playing limited minutes in a reserve roll for the first little while. Jack remains the starter and the point guard debate will simmer till Calderon is deemed back to game shape. The wild card in this debate will be Chris Bosh. Not saying he will decide it. However it is dumb to think he does not have an opinion on this. Also dumb would be think that it does not play a factor. But for those that think Calderon needs to be traded that makes little sense as well. Marcus Banks may be playing over expectations. However the bar of those expectations was set low, it seems to build up what he has done to a level higher than it probably is. Banks has been good for the most part and most of that on the defensive end. Offense for me has been hit or miss. However for my money I am not ready to see Marcus Banks as the full time back-up to Jack, Jose can be good regardless of his role. Unless you don't buy into the fact he is a great team guy as many over the years have said. I have no reason to believe that and think Jose and Jack for that matter will except whatever choice Jay Triano eventually makes.
It is hard to imagine the Raptors will some how find the answer to solve the Magic. They just have not really been close to doing that this season. If the Raptors are to have any chance they need to get D-12 in foul trouble. That at least will help to some degree. Dwight is almost as big a factor on defense as he is on the O. In fact against the Raptors he may be more important on D. We all remember that playoff series where Dwight was blocking everything that moved. The Raptors get easily persuaded to becoming a jump shooting team when you have D-12 prowling around the basket.
The Raptors did shake a monkey off their back though with that win over the Spurs. They had not beat a quote "Elite Team" since knocking off Cleveland on opening night. They are rested and will get the boost (Most likely) of a Calderon return. It is a chance to get to .500 again. That is the major hump to cross for the Raptors to get away from the bottom feeders in the East. However I will not hold my breath waiting to exhale for a win tonight. If these teams hook up again in the playoffs it is hard to imagine the Raptors coming out on top. The Magic beating the Raptors in their last playoff match-up was the start of the Magic rise to being one of the elite teams in the East and they should be for years to come.