Tag:Hedo Turkoglu
Posted on: October 3, 2009 2:39 pm

Toronto Raptors 2009/2010 Season Preview

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The 2009 – 2010 Toronto Raptors are ready to make a move up the standings after a very disappointing 2008 – 2009 season which saw injuries take their toll on the players and making them a very difficult team to cheer for as they tried to fill huge holes with sub-par talent. Many believed Jermaine O’Neal would provide a presence inside that would bring back memories of other Twin Towers such as the Spurs Tim Duncan and David Robinson, or the Rockets Twin Towers of Hakeen Olajuan and Ralph Sampson that took the Rockets to the Finals in the 80’s. Well, after losing their starting PG Calderon for a good portion of the season to an injury he never fully recovered from, that team fell apart by February 13th when he was traded to the Heat with Jamario Moon for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks. On July 9th, Shawn Marion signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks. That began an off-season of moves that can only be described as fantastic by Bryan Colangelo who showed his worth and why he is considered one of the top GM’s in the game.

Here is a list of the transactions he was able to complete as the off-season progressed after drafting DeMar DeRozan with the 9th overall pick. Losing Anthony Parker to free agency opened up the need for some SG players who could step in and provide strength and consistent scoring as well as opening up a spot for us to develop some young talent. So here is the list of what transpired over the summer:

4/13 Quincy Douby G Signed for the Rest of the Season, Signed through 2010
6/23 Reggie Evans PF Traded, For Jason Kapono
7/8 Andrea Bargnani FC Contract Extended, Five-year contract
7/9 Devean George GF Traded, part of multi-player four team deal
7/9 Hedo Turkoglu GF Traded, Part of multi-player four team deal
7/9 Antoine Wright GF Traded, Part of multi-player four team deal
7/9 DeMar DeRozan F Signed as Draft Pick
7/14 Jarrett Jack G Signed/Offer Sheet
7/21 Jarrett Jack G Signed as Free Agent
7/30 Marco Belinelli SG Traded, for Devean George and cash
7/30 Rasho Nesterovic C Signed as Free Agent
8/18 Amir Johnson F Traded, Part of four-player deal
8/18 Sonny Weems GF Traded, Part of four-player deal

As the list reveals, BC was intent on providing not only scoring, but some grit at both ends of the court acquiring combo guard and college team mate of Chris Bosh, Jarrett Jack who can provide solid minutes at both PG and SG positions. As I continue through my preview, I will provide more details as to what I see this team able to be heading into the season. From what I can see, IF last seasons team of scrubs was the best team he had ever assembled, I can’t wait to see this one perform!

I will provide a player by player analysis of each man on the roster, then provide some thoughts on the starters and bench roles and then an overall assessment of where this team could be come May 2010.

Marco Belinelli#0 Marco Belinelli – SG – Acquired July 30th from the Warriors who saw no use for him but can bring a lot of energy and outside shooting to this team and is a skilled playmaker. In 42 games last season, he averaged 21 mpg and 8.9 ppg as well as 2.1 assists on 1.4 turnovers. He shot a respectable 44.2% from the floor and nearly 40% from outside the arc. Some have him as a starter while some have him as a minor role player in the 10 minutes per game range. I see him being used as a main backup in the SG position to start the season allowing him to contribute scoring and defense to the second line. I believe that he is able to create his own space and will be able to offer a solid outside shot that will open up the floor for guys like JJ and Quincy to attack the paint.

Jarrett Jack#1 Jarrett Jack – PG/SG – Signed as a Free Agent July 21st from the Pacers who would not match the offer sheet.  In JJ, the Raptors have acquired a true combo guard who can start at either, provide solid play at both spots and provide defense at either spot. Being Chris Bosh’s college buddy and team mate helps with the locker room and on the floor as well providing a level of comfort to both players. Coming off a season where he played all 82 games averaging 33 minutes per game, he brings 13.1 ppg, 4.1 apg and 3.4 rebounds per game to this season. If he can keep those numbers up this team will reap huge rewards at both ends of the floor and give us depth at both positions that we have not seen for years. Backing up Jose, he will have the ability to attack, make plays and give him the rest he needs. Backing up the SG position will give him the opportunity to create and score from the off-guard position and with him and Jose on the floor together they immediately become one of the top back-courts combos in the league. I really like this guy and thought he should have gone a lot higher than 22nd in that 2005 draft that produced Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and newly acquired Antoine Wright. It’s no wonder he fell so far! He was 6 behind Joey Graham that season for those keeping score! I love Joey, but we could have had this guy 4 years ago! Roko Ukic was drafted 41 that year as well. Coming in at 56 is another new Raptor, Amir Johnson. I look forward to JJ providing solid play at both ends of the floor as well as finding a place to grow as a scorer in this up-tempo Raptors offense.

Marcus Banks#3 Marcus Banks – I won’t spend much time on Banks as I am not convinced he will ever see the court as a Raptor. We took him to get Marion and he is now a waste of cap space. Next!

Chris Bosh#4 Chris Bosh – PF – Many consider him a top 10 player in the NBA and in the top 4 or 5 as a PF at this point in his career. Shooting 48.7% from the floor and 81.7% from the line scoring 22.7 ppg while grabbing 10 rpgs in his best season as a pro gives solid evidence of those claims and show that he is an elite player at this level consistently. The biggest question facing him this year circles around a max deal. I won’t go into that too much, but will say that there are many aspects of his game that lend one to conclude that he is worth a max deal as LeBron James is for the Cavaliers and Dwyane Wade is for the Heat. To me, there are a few reasons why he shouldn’t just be handed a max deal. The biggest knock against Bosh is his consistent inability to guard his position. It is no secret he is terrified of Kevin Garnett of the Celtics, yet both have similar games and body types. Mental strength is a huge aspect of the game, and one that Chris has plenty of room to grow in. By bringing in the talent that was acquired this season, BC has told Chris that it is 100% up to CB4 as to whether or not the max deal will be offered. Making long term commitments to Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu tell me that BC is ready for a transition if Bosh leaves. At this point, the offense won’t be plodding through Bosh 80% of the time like it has in the past few seasons due to the new transition players that we have acquired. IF Bosh wants to stay, the max deal will require him to play defense inside, run the floor and own the glass at both ends of the court. He has put on some weight, but enters the season with a nagging injury! (OMG IS THIS A CHANNELING OF Vince Carter???) To me, the max deal is not automatic and the gauntlet has been laid out for him to pick up. Let’s see if he is the team leader many claim he is. I love the guy, but he is not the go-to guy on this team anymore, and should never be that guy on any team. All the teams serious about him want him as the second guy. The Heat, the Cavaliers, the Pistons, the Bulls, all see his value as the second guy! We need to see him as that now as well. It should be a very telling season. IF his numbers go down, I think he will not get a max offer from anyone else in the league. But that is for another thread!

Quincy Douby#5 – Quincy Douby – SG – I see him as a role guy, coming in way deep down the bench! With JJ, Antoine Wright, DMDR and Beli ahead of him at the 2 spot, and Jose and JJ holding down the 1 spot, I can’t see him getting much floor time. He did show some offensive skills in the summer league, but I don’t see him entering the game much.

Andrea Bargnani#7 – Andrea Bargnani – C/PF – BC’s first overall pick, given a 5 year extension, and has improved steadily over the past 2 seasons under Smitch and then Jay as he has a soft touch and loves to run the floor. Plays his best game when he is able to step out and take advantage of bigger slower centers who can’t move as quick as he can. Averaged around 18 ppg the last 3 months of the season and played some solid defense with a lot of multiple games with more than 2 shot blocks. Shooting 45% from the floor and 40+% from beyond the arc and 83% from the strip, he will provide this offense a lot of options as they transition from outside to inside. The biggest knock on AB is his lack of rebounding, especially on the offensive end of the floor. This can be corrected as he focuses more on playing in the mid or low block. He has worked on his game as his back is to the hoop, but his strength is the mid range game and transition work as a deadly option from outside. Even if he doesn’t improve his inside play, his strengths are well suited to this Raptors team. I can easily see him averaging around 20/10 this season which would be fantastic in the context of this offense. The confidence shown in him should be rewarded with new found confidence on the floor. With a solid front of Bosh and Turk, teams will have a tough time keeping an eye on AB which will allow him to find open spots to use that shot of his. Growth is the word for him as he continues to learn the game and push himself past where he was. I don’t think his ceiling has been reached yet, and neither does BC.

Jose "Ocho" Calderon#8 – Jose Calderon – PG – Jose played most of last season injured with a nagging hamstring injury, yet he was able to record personal bests in FTM at 98.1% after going around 100 straight without a miss to start the season, averaged almost 9 assists per game and nearly 13 ppg. Many consider him to be a top 5 PG in this league and I agree. He is able to play a controlled game and is very good at facilitating his team mate’s success. The injury slowed him down and kept him from attacking the hole as fearless as he would like. At 100%, Jose will again provide that spark this offense needs and with much more effective weapons in his arsenal, I look forward to the headaches opponents will face nightly! With JJ backing him up, there is little drop off in style or leadership. With 3 solid SGs, this backcourt will be tough to defend most nights and I look to Jose to continue his growth as a top level PG in this league.

DeMar DeRozan#10 – DeMar DeRozan – SG – Drafted 9th overall this year he has shown a lot of skill with the ball and has been saying all the right things about playing defense. This summer he played summer ball and has been touted as the starter by many who seem to know about these things. He has been given an early shot at rookie of the year as well. Not bad for a 20 year old kid who has yet to play a real NBA game. I love the skills he brings and I believe he will be a solid 12 to 15 point per game SG though I believe he could bring more. What we are looking for at the SG is defense! He has stated that he is working hard on his defense this summer and with that level of dedication, I am sure he will find many ways to contribute to this team and make an impact in most games this season. A slow start would not bother me, but a weak finish after a slow start would! From what I have seen, his work ethic won’t allow that to happen! Good for us!

Rasho Nesterovic#12 – Rasho Nesterovic – C – Beginning his second tour with the Raptors, this 11 year veteran is a fan favorite as he works hard every minute he is on the floor and is fearless in his defending against even the toughest Centers like Dwight Howard and Shaquille O’Neal. He won’t wow you with his skill set, but what he brings is intensity and desire, which were sorely missed while he was gone! He will be the first backup to AB and will provide much inside game defensively. He is one of those guys that a team won’t trade for, but will ask for to be a throw in as a part of any deal that is made. Signed as a Free Agent, we will appreciate his game as the season goes on. Great signing for a team that is still lacking a true Center, but a true Center is rare in the new NBA.

Patrick O'Bryant#13 – Patrick O’Bryant – C – Not much to say other than a work in progress that has yet to arrive with an NBA quality game. I don’t think he will see much floor time this season either.

Amir Johnson#15 – Amir Johnson – PF – Brought in to back up either Hedo or CB4, Amir is still labeled as “having potential” but not delivering. Not known as an offensive threat, he does bring intensity to the floor and is not afraid to work for tough rebounds. Projecting his 3.8 career RPG over a 25 minute game, one finds him possibly adding around 7 rebounds per game and 7 or 8 ppg. That would be acceptable to many and I can see him getting that level of minutes at either the PF or SF position. Athletic and fearless, he will be a welcome addition to this front court.

Antoine Wright#21 – Antoine Wright – SG – Acquired as a part of the multi-team, multi-player deal, Antoine will be looked to as a stopper primarily. Offensively weak, he brings a nose for defense to a team that needs one. Many think he will start for a few games until DMDR gets his feet wet. I am not sure that will happen, but if it does, it will be for limited minutes as both Beli and DmDr will play the bulk of the minutes as the scoring is what the SG is one position we need consistent scoring from in this new offense. Where I see him filling a role is as a bench guy who comes in late in the game in an offense for defense sequence of substitutions until we find a guy who can bring both to the floor every night. A welcome addition who will have to step up his offensive play to stay in the game.

Sonny Weems#24 – Sonny Weems – SG – I can’t say much except that he looks a lot like Joey Graham, but is much more athletic. I hope he can play defense, because I don’t see him getting in the game a whole lot.

Hedo Turkoglu#26 – Hedo Turkoglu – PF/SF – The jewel in BC’s off-season crown. Hedo proved his worth in the Magic’s playoff run to the finals last season as he hit tough shot after tough shot and allowed the Magic to not miss Jameer Nelson as much as he was able to push the ball up the floor when it became obvious Nelson couldn’t. Once the Magic brought Vince Carter to the team, Hedo wanted out! Our fortune as we stole him away from the Trail Blazers after it seemed he would sign there. Completing last season with 16.8 ppg, 4.9 apg, 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 41.3% from the floor, he joins a very formidable front court that will create headaches for many teams in this league. He will not have to score more, but I suspect he will find plenty of room and opportunity in this rotation. I expect his rebounding to improve a bit as well as he will be able to attack the weak side glass more. So many upsides to this signing! I look forward to seeing him run the floor and sink daggers into someone else heart for once!

Reggie Evans#30 – Reggie Evans – PF – A rebounding PF who will see limited play, but will be expected to be an impact player while on the floor. I think he is up to it, but I don’t think he will see much playing time unless we need aggressive defense. I hope he can prove me wrong, but he won’t contribute much to the offense, but could make his value increase as he attacks the glass.

Many project this team to end the season as low as 10th in the Eastern Conference and missing the playoffs yet again. I don’t believe any of those reports. I am on record stating that this team could win as many as 53 games and end up as high as the 4th seed in the east. As I see it, these guys are a much better defensive team than last season, the bench is much deeper and Jose Calderon is healthy. His health cost us probably 10 games last season and the lack of a bench cost us probably at least that many. IF we only improve our defense by 10%, which would be about 10 points allowed per game that would keep us in pretty much every game we play this season. Sure we may still be blown out, but I don’t see that happening too often. I see a lot more balance on offense which is one factor to a blowout! It will be tough to shut this team down with so many weapons on the floor, and on the bench.

The coaches are committed to defense and the guys are buying it! That is a very good thing! With a full off-season and training camp, we will see a much more prepared team entering the season, and we will see what a very good coach Jay Triano really is. Call me a dreamer, but I think that teams will have much more difficulty containing our starting front court nightly. We may still have trouble with guys like Shaq and DH, but over all, I see this team in a much better position to challenge night in and night out. The keys to a successful season will be committing to defense first, moving efficiently into and out of transition at both ends and bench production, both defensive and offensively.

I am looking forward to a very good season. I know you won’t all agree with me, but that is why we love to write! Please reply your feelings and thoughts on this new season. Opinions are always welcomed and respected! Sometimes, they are challenged, and sometime we all learn from each other!

Go Raptors Go.

Posted on: November 24, 2008 11:35 am

Raptors - Week 4 in Review

Last week the Raptors would love to forget most of what happened to them. I know Raptors fans are very disgruntled right now with the inconsistent play from the team in general as they find ways to lose games in which they have huge leads. So far, after 13 games, the team is 6 – 7, which is exactly where it was last year after 13 games and at this point, there seems little hope for team fortunes to improve as the next week brings the Bobcats, the Hawks and the Lakers on the schedule.  With Jose Calderon still not even close to 100% healthy, it looks to be a long week again.

Here’s what I saw in the past week and what I am looking at for the next week.

The past week gave us 4 games against Eastern conference teams. Two were in the top 4 teams of the conference last season and the other two are hovering around .500 as we are. The Magic were first up in Orlando on our Florida swing with back to back games in Orlando and Miami for a re-match against the struggling Heat.

The Magic came into the game on a 3 game win streak and were 8 – 3 on the season at that point. We were able to open up a lead on the Magic as we were able to get the ball inside and keep Dwight Howard off the boards and off his game with only 4 points in the first half. He finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds, both off of his season averages. Chris Bosh had a huge game with 40 points, 18 rebounds hitting 14/19 shots while Jermaine O’Neal had 1t points and 10 rebounds. With Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono seemingly lost in their own heads, Sam Mitchell started Andrea Bargnani in the 3 spot and he struggled both on offense and on offense with only 5 points. Playing without Jose Calderon, this team turned the ball over 24 times and squandered the lead and the game away as Will Solomon attempted to run the offense with little success as the Magic just kept shooting the ball as Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis all had 22 points and seemed to answer any run the Raptors threw at them causing turnovers or grabbing rebounds and running the floor scoring an easy 2 or 3 off the transition game.

Next up were the Heat who came into the game 5 – 5 and missing Centers Jamaal Magloire and Mark Blount up front leaving the Heat out manned against the front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani. Having beaten the Heat the previous Sunday, the rematch in Miami presented the Raptors with a good chance for a road win. Jose started the game but looked sore and careful on his injured leg. Though Dwyane Wade had 40 points and 11 assists and Shawn Marion had a 20 point, 14 rebound game, they were just not matched up well as Andrea Bargnani had a 25 point game and Jermaine had a 16 point 17 rebound effort. It was a very exciting game as Dwyane Wade took over and attacked the Raptors inside in the 4th to keep the game close. To me, the play of the game was JO’s rejection of Wade with a little over a minute left. It allowed the Raptors to get the ball back up court and pull ahead and out of range.

Next game was the Nets and Vince Carter. Although the Raptors opened up another 18 point lead, Vince scored 12 points in the last 22 seconds including the game tying 3 from 27 feet with Anthony Parkers had in his face. Then he scored on an ally-oop to win the game on the last shot. Dropping 39 points and grabbing 9 rebounds while Devin Harris, who left before half time with an upset stomach, scored 30. Together, they combined for half of the Nets points. Andrea had his best game as a pro scoring 29 points while Jose scored 26 and CB scored 42 as he and VC went back and forth all evening answering each other on both ends of the floor.

Sunday, the World Champions visited the ACC and from the beginning of the game, the Raptors appeared shell shocked, probably not recovered from the terrible loss Friday. The Celtics had 7 guys in double digits with Ray Allen leading the way with 21, Kevin Garnett, who harassed Chris all afternoon had 15, Kendrick Perkins had 12, Rajon Rondo scored 15 as did Tony Allen and Eddie House added 11. CB countered with 24 and AB added another 14 as this game was never close.

So, the past 4 games have given us a very deep look into this team, and it is very much in a state of flux. Our 4 main guys right now are Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, who is hurting, Jermaine O’Neal, who is hurting as well, and Chris Bosh. Over the past week, their numbers look pretty good with Chris averaging over 30 points per game and 10.5 rebounds. He is shooting 54% from the floor with his first 3 point shot of the season, and 83% from the line. Andrea has stepped up his production as he continues to improve while adjusting to the SF position scoring 18.25 per game, 6 rebounds and 50% from outside the arc. Jermaine has become a very solid fixture on defense and hurt his knee during the Nets game. He has given us 11 points and 9 rebounds with the last two games being injured. It is obvious that he is becoming comfortable with Chris Bosh and his secondary role on this team which bodes well for the future as long as his knee keeps him on the floor, he will continue to add depth and strength up front. Jose Calderon missed one game this week but has continued to contribute 16 points and 10.3 assists per game and is still 100% from the free throw line to lead the league in that.

With all that great play from these 4 guys, all this team needs is someone – anyone at this point to step up and contribute some defense and a little on offense. Most nights, there is no one on the bench who seems willing to contribute other than Kris Humphries who offers good minutes when called on. Every game this week our second unit of Jason Kapono, Will Solomon or Roko Ukic and Jamario Moon has found ways to lose huge leads built by our first unit. Sam has little success adjusting as the guys just aren’t playing well as a group. Last season, our bench was a strong point, but this year, they are anticipated by every team we play as they endure or first line to get to the weak, ineffective second stringers. Until these guys can start adding to the team, we will struggle against every team in this league and will have little chance to make the playoffs as anything below .500% won’t make the playoffs in the east this year. This past week we allowed an average of 46.5 points in the paint per game. An unbelievable number with the guys we have up front! Where are they coming from? Wade and Carter – guards scored 40 and 39 with Harris, another guard adding 30, mostly off the dribble or at the line. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard with 22 and 18 with Nelson driving and dishing and shooting wide open looks over our guards. It becomes pretty obvious that this team can not stop any kind of wing game, as Paul Pierce showed in the first game. Night after night our guards and SF positions are exploited as teams out play our guys and Sam Mitchell seems lost as to how to stop it. With the Lakers and the Hawks coming up, this does not look promising as they are both bringing 2 of the best SG’s in the league with Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson. I hope they can find a way to stop wing and guard penetration soon as we saw Sam unable to attack a zone defense. Should be a very long week for the Raptors and it’s fan base.

Posted on: November 19, 2008 9:44 am

Raptors - Magic - A night to Forget

Well, our fears were realized last night! Jose Calderon is the piece that is holding this team together. Chris Bosh had a monster game and Jermaine O'Neal played a solid game on Dwight Howard and we get our butts handed to us. The Raptors can not continue to turn the ball over and for the third game in a row rack up 20+ T/O’s with 24. That, along with 12 steals and 2 – 14 from outside after missing the first 12 was just too many wasted chances to hold the 10 point lead they worked hard to get. Will Solomon scored 10 points but caused 7 turnovers with only 4 assists. That just won’t cut it in the NBA.

After being + 6 rebounds most of the first half as our front line played tough inside frustrating Dwight Howard and keeping him to 4 points in the first half, something happened and they forgot to stop watching CB try to win the game by himself as they became stagnant on offense with no ball movement at all. The Magic scorers began to just out play our pathetic play on the perimeter. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis started to hit outside shots and create wide, and I do mean WIDE open looks from the corners. Andrea Bargnani was unable to create any problems as Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick moved the ball and scored at will.

A tough night for the Raptors, but it was good to see that we are getting solid play from our front as we had hoped. The biggest thing we saw last night was how tough it is for Roko Ukic and Will Solomon to step in and be a PG in this league. Redick has taken 3 years to develop from and NCAA star to an adequate replacement for Mickael Pietrus. A very good decision by Van Gundy to start Redick as we could offer him Anthony Parker who looks very tired these days. Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono look so out of place without Jose to create the open shot for them. Both have a long way to go to keep their playing time up as they are quickly becoming liabilities when they are on the floor.

Here’s hoping tonight they will not remember last night against the Heat.

Posted on: November 17, 2008 10:14 am

Raptors - Magic Pregame Thoughts

The Raptors head to Orlando to take on the Magic after beating the Heat Sunday afternoon. The Magic are coming off a win against the Bobcats in a game that saw Dwight Howard score 4 points and collect 7 rebounds in just 26 minutes before fouling out. Hedo Turkoglu lead the team with 20. The Raptors will have to continue the front court pressure to keep Dwight Howard off balance and off his game to take advantage of our front court again. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal will need to work inside against Howard and Turkoglu as well as Rashard Lewis in the SF position. He is bringing 17 points and 7 rebounds to the floor. Should Sam put Andrea Bargnani at the SF position again, the front lines of both teams will provide us a very entertaining game.

The back-court of the Magic with Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietris will test our back court of Will Solomon and Anthony Parker as both are quick and love to attack the lane. Should Jose Calderon be available and 100%, then the back-courts should be about even and the game will fall into the hands of our front line. The game could hinge on substitutions and keeping the guys fresh and keeping the Magic off balance on defense as our guys all bring a different intensity and skill set to the floor. With JO averaging 13 points and 9 boards and CB4 averaging 25 and 10 we have the ability to keep most front courts working very hard on defense. The hallmark of Dwight and the Magic is defense with Howard averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds and Hedo adding 17.5 and 5 boards, our guys will have to work together to keep them playing hard at both ends. Howard is averaging 4.5 blocks per game which will hopefully make our guys aware of where he is and keep the ball moving as they did Sunday.

Keys to the game.

First and foremost, we will need the inspired play we got from our bench guys. Jamario Moon will need to play with the intensity he did against the Heat. Jason Kapono brought energy and some smooth shooting to the game. Perhaps neither of these guys should start as they could be great weapons off the bench. If we can get Kris Humphries to provide the same level of play in support of JO and Chris, this team will be able to put Andrea Bargnani at the SF and create havoc on the wing against smaller guys.

To win the game, the Raptors will have to keep Dwight Howard off the glass and out of the game defensively. That means ball movement and moving Jermaine and Chris in and out of the paint all night. This Raptors team loves the high – low game and will need it to work well against this mobile Magic front line. Andrea or Jamario or Jason will have to keep Rashard Lewis from bombing all night. One of the 3 or all of them will need to be in his face when he has the ball challenging him to drive. With our interior guys playing solid defensively, we need to keep him off the arc. Our guards will have to provide the solid play we got from them, as well, they will need to find a way to shut down the solid tandem the Magic provide. The game will give Solomon, Roko Ukic and Anthony Parker the opportunity to show they can be the stoppers defensively. Our guards won't be able to give up the ball so easily as 24 points off of turnovers will kill us against this team, or most teams in this league.

I think that we have the chance of taking both games in Florida and I would love to see the guys keep playing solid team defense. Our offense will take care of itself.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com