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Charlotte Bobcats vs. Toronto Raptors preview -- Game 57

Today's Tunes: Superfly by Curtis Mayfield

Welcome back, everyone! I am thrilled to see nightly NBA action begin again. After watching the up-tempo, high-scoring All-Star Game, I'm glad that we can get back to watching some basketball with some defense. *Checks schedule again* Oh wait, we're playing the Raptors. Never mind.

Overview: Well, defense aside, I expect this to be an entertaining game. Toronto is another one of those teams like us that gets very little attention. They have some good young players that are still developing their NBA game, notably DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis. However, the team has recorded the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 15-41. Toronto was ravaged by injury, losing Jose Calderon, Leandro Barbosa, Linas Kleiza, and Reggie Evans for extended periods of time. But after the rest from the break, it looks like all of the Raptors, save for Kleiza, will be ready for action in tonight's game.

That said, the Bobcats players have surely used their time to heal up as well. Yesterday, D.J. Augustin said his hand is healed. Hopefully this signifies the return of his sweet shooting stroke. Gerald Wallace probably avoided rigorous exercise more than anyone, including Silas. Outside of Tyrus Thomas and DeSagana Diop, it looks like the Bobcats will have a healthy squad on the court.

Matchup of the Night: Look to the shooting guards. DeMar DeRozan is an up-and-coming offensive force in the league and he's not too happy about his dunk contest results from last weekend. I think he may go off. However, DeRozan is pretty lackluster on defense. Stephen Jackson may have a good night, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how Gerald Henderson plays. He reminds me a lot of DeRozan as far as athleticism and ability to get to the rim, except his defense is much better and his offense is not as honed.

Key to Victory: Gerald Wallace. He usually goes off against Toronto. He'll be matched up against Julian Wright and Sonny Weems tonight, so I don't think this should be too much of a challenge for him, assuming his brings the intensity we're used to. Defensively, the Bobcats will need his help-defense and his rebounding. As Andrea Bargnani plays more like a wing than a center, he will draw Kwame or Nazr away from the basket. If Reggie Evans is healthy and plays, we will need Gerald Wallace to put forth some extra effort on the boards, as Evans is a dominant rebounder and Diaw...well, Diaw is not.

Meme-y Thing About the Opponent: Jerryd Bayless makes awesome, super serious (and borderline crazy) faces like this during games.