So far, the 76ers are 2 – 5 having lost to the Raptors opening night in Philadelphia and have not been able to take advantage of the front court presence of Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert though together they combined for 30 rebounds and 23 points. Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Andre Miller join Elton Brand and Lou Williams as a group averaging over 10 points a game, though none are over 20 at this point. This team will bring balanced scoring and pressure from the wings with Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala looking to replicate Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce and their ability to exploit the porous perimeter of the Raptors. This team will be hungry to prove not only that they are a team who will challenge in the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference, but are better than their record indicates. This team has losses to the Raptors, the Magic, the Hawks, the Jazz and the Heat. All of which are playoff caliber teams.
The Raptors return home after losing 2 of 3 on the road. The problem isn't the fact that they lost 2 games, but the manner in which they lost them. The Hawks blew this team out from the back court. Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Ronald Murray, Maurice Evens and Marvin Williams all out playing us as a group attacking from every angle and watching as we could stop none of it! Then we went into Boston where the Celtics looked helpless against our front court and our ball movement and then Paul Pierce lit us up for 22 in the forth and Kevin Garnett froze Chris Bosh out of the game. Sure Jermaine O'Neal had a good game but most of his 23 points and 11 rebounds came in the first half. Though it was great to see Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon score, we needed either of them to step up and stop something from the outside!
Tonight, the Raptors need to establish themselves on the glass as they were -23 rebounding in the opener, most of that thanks to a terrible first quarter, but none the less, this Raptors team MUST become a 40 board a game night to compete with the best teams in the East. I look for the Raptors to come out strong on the glass and establish defensive pressure early on this quicker team. Chris will not score 9 again and Jose won't score 7 as they return to form against a less formidable defensive squad. This game will go a long way in setting themselves up for success defensively if we can hold them to less than 40 boards. Until we play smart basketball, on both ends of the floor, we will be nothing more than a good looking basketball team. Sam has a long way to go with this team, good thing the season is young.
A quote from the captain:<table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="100%" border="0"> <colgroup><col width="256"></col></colgroup> <tbody> <tr> <td valign="top" width="100%">
"We don't let things discourage us. That's what I like about this team this year, no matter how things are going, we
don't hang our heads. We just figure out how we're going to play things better, and we stay in the game mentally."
-- Chris Bosh on the Raptors' improved approach to games this season.</td> </tr> </tbody> </table>
I believe this team can do what it takes to win, the question is do they believe they have what it takes? Ask Sam, he should know the heart of this team and if they listen, they will know it as well.