Before we get to the game tonight in Denver as most of you probably saw we have an injury update from the Raptors on Andrea Bargnani. An MRI has revelled no significant damage to Bargnani's re-injured calf, however he is out indefinitely. These two things don't seem to go together. But what it means in terms of the here and now is don't expect to see Andrea Bargnani any time soon. Which makes what would have been a tough task with him, next to impossible now. It is one thing to scramble and out play a team for a 5 minute overtime without him, it is quite another to play a full 48 minutes without him. Matt Devlin dropped a pretty amazing stat in our interview yesterday. The Raptors without Bargnani the Raptor are 3-19 over the last couple seasons. I don't have the numbers for the Raptors in the past without Bosh or without Vince Carter but they can't be much worse than that.
It will be another Italian front and center tonight in the form of Danilo Gallinari. When I hear people talking about most improved player in the NBA and making the All Star Game don't hear much talk about him. But there should be talk. He is having a break out season in Denver and for a time in Fantasy Basketball season was the number 1 ranked player in all of the NBA. Like Bargnani he can make the three, you can argue for his position he is a better rebounder and he has nicer overall floor game. Stopping him will likely fall in the hands of James Johnson for most of the evening.
Denver is likely to be without it's point guard in Ty Lawson as he is listed as doubtful. Rookie Julyan Stone could see some extensive minutes playing behind Andre Miller. Speaking of rookies the Nuggets have two good ones in Kenneth Faried a beast on the glass and a shot blocker, along with Jordan Hamilton who played on the wing at Texas with Canadians Cory Joesph and Tristan Thompson. The Nuggets also of course have Nene back resigned in the off season. Along with an experienced yet like Al Harrington.
Raptors without Bargnani what they will do is up for debate. The last time he went down they turned to Ed Davis who has since gone deeper into the dog house of late. After his 25 point performance and given his skill set many feel a move to Kleiza at the four against his former team makes a lot of sense. I would agree and remind folks that he played a significant amount at the 4 in his time with the Nuggets. So it is not like he is unfamiliar with the position. In fact of late he has been playing there for the Raptors more than in the past.
Safe to say for the Raptors to make it 3 wins in a row it would be a minor miracle. If Tim Tebow is walking out on that floor he would be wearing a Nuggets Jersey so he is no help. How the Raptors make up for the 24 points that Andrea Bargnani provides will be the biggest issue moving forward with out him in the line-up.
Start Strong: We can just leave this as a key until the Raptors actually do it. As I stated in the interview yesterday with Matt, no matter what level of basketball you care to talk about, playing from behind is not desirable. It makes a team have to expend far more energy than they would like too. In the thin air of Mile High Country you need all the extra energy you can find.
Compete on the Glass: Another common theme in the keys to the game. But against Denver is is vital, adding Faried made a team that already was decent on the boards that much better. This kid is an impact rookie. I remember a reader mentioning him as a fantasy sleeper and a dark horse for rookie of the year. He may not quiet be that Rookie of the Year but he is extremely solid and a difference maker on the glass.
Defend the Arc: Denver have some weapons from long range. Identify who is on the court and wear those shooters are. The Raptors ability to use the zone effectively should be greatly reduced against this team. Gallinari is only one of several capable long range strikers.
So no matter how much tebowing Raptor fans do tonight it would seem will be next to impossible to get a third win in a row. That said wins in Phoenix and Utah were not forecast either. However minus Bargnani is a big difference as we have seen the Raptors this season are close to a .500 team with him and without him might be the worst team in the league. Now that is POWER!!