Welcome Back Raps

It has been awhile since the Raptors have been home but now they have a lot of home date on the schedule. There are 12 of the next 17 at the Air Canada Centre prior to Christmas, and 7 of the next 8 games. So at least in theory this is a time for the Raptors to get some wins and get their record back to a more respectable level. It all starts tonight with the Houston Rockets.

The Basics: Houston 3-8 (2-5 on The Road) Toronto 3-9 (1-3 @ACC Just Raps 5th Home Game)

When Last We Saw Them: I was at Real Sports bar and saw the Raptors led to victory by Bargnani and Weems as they pulled away late and avoided being in the basement of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference with a win on the road in Philly. Raptors finished their 4 game trip with a 2-2 record. Weems had a career high 25 and Bargnani had 30 points and 7 rebounds.

The OW!! Report: Arron Brooks has a left ankle sprain (I knew this he is on one of my Fantasy teams) Yao also a bad left ankle and to keep things to the left Chase Budinger also issues with a left ankle issue. In short Santa the Rockets would like good left ankles for Christmas. For the Raptors only folks listed on injury report are Barbosa with a shoulder strain still and Ed Davis still waiting to make his debut making progress after knee surgery prior to pre-season. Lots of other with some bumps and bruises but all ready for action it would appear.

Key Match Ups: Sonny Weems has earned a spot in the Raptors starting 5 and he will have a tough test matched up with Shane Battier a crafty defender that can cause some of the NBA's best to be frustrated. Weems is coming off a career high vs Philly and will face a much tougher test tonight. Andrea Bargnani and Brad Miller make for an interesting match-up. Miller is a good shooter not with the range of Bargnani but can make a mid-range jumper if left unattended. Also can be a force on the glass if Bargnani does not get a body on him. Aside from those match-ups with no Arron Brooks that should give the Raps a significant advantage at the point. Calderon of late has been out performing Jack and if Jarrett wants to remain a starter a good game vs Houston is required.

Other Things of Note: Despite their record offence is not the problem in Houston. They average 105.5 points per game which is around 6 better than the Raptors at 99.4 PPG. In fact across the board the Rockets lead in all statistical team stats with the exception of steals where the Raptors average 7.8 to the Rockets 6.7 per game. Luis Scola is a beast and averages a double double on the season with 22.9 points and an even 10 rebounds. David Andersen will suit up against his former team as he was acquired from Houston in the off-season. For what it is worth the teams split the season series 1-1 last year. All Time the Raptors are 12-17 vs Houston but the good news is 9-5 at home.

In Case You Missed It: I wrote an article on the Raptors maybe looking to find the next Canadian Star as away to stop the exodus of star players. This was prior to last night's Texas vs Illinois game at MSG. Under the bright lights Tristan Thompson went off with 20 points and 5 blocks. This kid is legit and some day needs to be trading in burnt orange for Raptor red and white. Cory Joesph also of Toronto had a nice night playing the point for the Longhorns. Raptor Fans need to start being Texas fans and say Hook'em Horn Eh!!! As much as the say Let's Go Raptors. Early days yet but if these group of Canadian kids (Myck Kabongo also from Toronto is declared for Texas next season) can end up Raptors, people may just forget at about Chris, Vince and all the others that came and left. It really could be the start of something big. When the Raptors were established part of the goal was to grow the game here in Canada. This is that generation starting to take shape. If the Raptors don't cash in on it they are beyond foolish. But let's give them credit for developing the game here and if they land some of this kid's like a Tristan Thompson it might have been worth 16 years of a lot of suffering.

Another thing that will be missing from this game is me as I will be covering the Thunder and Celtics for The Score. But on Sunday I am liveblogging the Celtics and Raptors. What that means in practical terms is the re-caps of these games may not be right away. I always believe you have to watch a game before you can write about it. Very old school way of doing things I know.

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