STARTING LINEUPS & INJURIES
Expect Tyreke Evans, Beno Udrih, Omri Casspi and Carl Landry to start. DeMarcus Cousins started all three road games, but Samuel Dalembert did start the second half against Cleveland (and it worked well). Jason Thompson, of course, did not see any minutes in the second half, though. Pooh Jeter and Hassan Whiteside have been inactive for the last two games.
The starting five for Toronto in its last game was Jarrett Jack at the point, DeMar DeRozan at shooting guard, Linas Kleiza at small forward, Reggie Evans at power forward and Andrea Bargnani at center. Sonny Weems, Jose Calderon, Leandro Barbosa and Amir Johnson are the key subs.
All hail the master scout, HighTops, who has a preview/scouting report in the FanPosts. Here's my version.
The Raptors with Chris Bosh had a high-octane offense and a piss-poor defense. Evans, an extraordinary rebounder and solid defender with an offensive game equivalent to that of a drunk Joe Kleine, replaces Bosh. Needless to say, this serves to boost the defense at the expense of offense, probably not the worst trade-off the Raptors could have asked for given who mans the
center centre position.
The problem comes when that centre, Bargnani, can't hit. The Raptors are really short on offense around him. DeRozan figures to be a high-usage slasher in the future, but, based on what I saw last year, he has a fairly steep development curve. (He's said to be a really hard-worker, though; we'll see how much he helped himself this summer tonight.) Kings fans know Kleiza all too well; he's a gifted scorer, but certainly isn't unstoppable, and like Bargnani needs the long jumper to fall to be truly difficult to guard.
All that said, Kings bigs have real trouble chasing shooters, and Kleiza will test Casspi in ways Jamario Moon couldn't. Casspi had trouble with Travis Outlaw on Friday; Kleiza is smaller and less athletic, but stronger and has a quicker trigger. (Yes, a quicker trigger than that of Outlaw exists.)
On the other end, Bargnani has less than zero chance of guarding Cousins down low if Cousins stays down low. Every outside jumper by DMC is like a gift on the doorstep of Bargnani's nonna. Reggie Evans will make Landry work, but Hot Carl will do the same to Evans. With Landry, his jumper is so deadly and requires the defender to follow out -- with Evans, that leaves Reggie chasing balls instead of squaring up for the carom. Of course, Evans will still get his boards, but perhaps fewer if Landry is keeping him occupied from the elbow.
Jack is a much better defender than Calderon, but neither J.J. nor DeRozan should be able to stop Tyreke one-on-one. So, much as with Cousins, it'd be great if 'Reke lived at the rim. Let Casspi and Udrih (and Francisco Garcia and Luther Head and maaaaybe Donte Greene) take the jumpers against this team.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME
Casspi vs. Kleiza. The Kings have won both games in which Casspi performed well, and against the lesser teams of the league, having Omri on (along with the more dependable Evans and Landry) should be enough, assuming some modicum of defensive execution. But Kleiza will certainly keep Casspi occupied, and could do plenty to kill the Kings when the Raps are on offense.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Tyreke Evans. To take the next leap, Evans has to shred teams like Toronto. Now -- at home for the first time since clinching the 20-5-5 rookie season -- is as good a time as any.
The home opener has a 7 PM start. It will be a sell-out plus with the team opening up standing room only tickets. The Kings have announced they'll open the doors at 4:45 and put the World Series on the Jumbotron so fans don't miss the early innings of the Giants' bid to win the title. Comcast SportsNet and KHTK 1140 AM will have the game. Threads at 7 and 8:30.