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Gameday Preview vs Toronto Raptors

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Pump Up Music: Superdrag -- "Sucked Out"

The Big Picture: The Bobcats and Raptors are bizarro versions of each other. The Raps are first in offensive efficiency and last in defensive efficiency, while the Cats are second in defense and third-worst on offense. In other words, we're going to see a contrast in styles, if ever there was one.

Jose Calderon, Andrea Bargnani, and Hedo Turkoglu are all devilishly difficult to guard, but none of them have ever been considered defensive stalwarts, and Chris Bosh... well, Bosh has played the first 15 games of the season about as well as he's ever played over a long stretch. Even if his defense isn't the greatest in the world (I don't think he's as long as KG), it's certainly decent, and he's no walk in the park for anyone, let alone a tag team pair featuring a 32-year old who never played great defense to begin with and a defensive specialist coming off a back injury.

Key to Victory: I don't think there's a solution for the Raptors' front court. Bargnani is shooting threes at better than 40% this season, and Bosh is first or second among East centers right now with Big Bad Dwight, so it's kind of a pick your poison situation. I think we'll end up seeing Boris Diaw on Bargnani and Chandler/Mohammed on Bosh, and we can just hope Bosh doesn't draw them out to 18 feet then either shoot or put the ball on the floor, because they'll get eaten alive if the Raptors can consistently force that choice.

There are two things the Cats can do, though. First, they can make a concerted effort to dominate the glass on both ends of the floor. Gerald Wallace is our primary weapon here, since he'll be charged with guarding Turkoglu when both first units are on the floor. Hedo hasn't been anything special as a rebounder, but Wallace has been a monster on the glass. The Cats can't afford to give the Raptors any "extra" possessions.

The second thing they can do is give Diaw more minutes at center and hope he can give Bosh problems. That would put either Stephen Jackson or Wallace on Bargnani, and allow Ronald Murray and (dare I dream) Gerald Henderson to take on DeMar DeRozan or Jarrett Jack when they go small in the backcourt. It's less than ideal for rebounding purposes, but might make sense if it contains Bargs.

Detail That Might Interest .08% of You: The Raptors have only 9 players who came out of the NCAA Div I-A. They could play a lineup entirely of foreigners (Calderon, Belinelli, Turkoglu, Bargnani, Nesterovic), and then Amir Johnson came out of high school.