Open thread: Regular season game 43


The essentials:
Wizards (24-19) vs. Raptors (24-20)
7 p.m.
Air Canada Center
CSN

This year:
December 1: Wizards 101, Raptors 97
January 29 (yesterday): Wizards 108, Raptors 104

Notable Raptors numbers this season
10th in expected winning percentage (.609).
27th in pace factor (89.5 possessions per game).
10th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (110.7)
11th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (107.3).

Key links (drop any others in the comments)
Raptors Blog
Raptors HQ
Raptors Den
Hoops Addict
Wizards Insider: Caron Butler injury update and D-Mac press.
Post: Wizards chat.
DCPSR preview.
Raptors HQ postgame rant.
Dinosty on last night.
John Hollinger discusses Brendan Haywood in his Sleepers column.
Hoops Addict Blog Preview

Starting lineups:
Raptors
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Anthony Parker
SF: Jamario Moon
PF: Chris Bosh
C: Andrea Bargnani

Wizards
PG: Antonio Daniels
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Andray Blatche
PF: Antawn Jamison
C: Brendan Haywood

Tonight's lines:
Wizards at Raptors: Raptors by 11.
Over/Under on Total scoring: 45.2 points.

I sort of owe you guys a long one, so apologies for the lateness.

Getting healthy: The news on Caron Butler does not sound good at all.  In fact, I'm getting flashbacks to last year's nagging knee problem that sabotaged a breakout season.  At the very least, he's taking things slowly by not traveling with the team, but seeing as how the Wizards have a history of downplaying injuries, I'm kind of worried.

Growing up: I can't really say enough about the play of Andray Blatche and Dominic McGuire.  Neither were quite as dominant as their rebounding numbers suggest, but they, and not Antawn Jamison, were the reason we won last night, if only because they provided unexpected production.  Now, Toronto is not a strong rebounding team, but there's no reason why we can't see those things more often from these two.  Particularly Blatche, who really has only had a couple good games since the first month.

All this means that, as some of you have suggested in the last thread, we need to try to move Etan Thomas and/or Darius Songaila, particularly the last one.  I can't imagine anyone who'd want Songaila, so I doubt he'd be traded or anything, but I'd like to see his minutes shrink and go instead to Blatche and O-Pec.  It's a difficult situation, because I think we could use a veteran defensive-minded post-up guy, but Songaila is neither defensive-minded nor a post-up guy.  I was hoping we'd see more of him running pick and pops with Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason, but for whatever reason, it hasn't happened as we'd wish.  

And I really do not want to see him at center.  If Eddie wants to go small, play Blatche.  Not Songaila.

Where anomalies happen: Last night's game was played at a pretty fast pace, making the Wizards' defense all the more impressive.  I was impressed with how we closed out on shooters, and most importantly, limited Toronto to one shot.  As Ivan wrote in his blog entry, Sam Mitchell was pissed at the Raptors for not rebounding, but it's not Mitchell's fault that there's only one good rebounder on his team (Kris Humphries).  I guess that's why I didn't like the Jason Kapono signing even though he's playing well.  That money could have been used on a rebounder instead.

Anyway, the point is that we shouldn't expect to see such an up-tempo game tonight.  Both teams are in the bottom 10 in pace factor, and both will be tired after last night's thriller.  If the pace slows, that favors Toronto, who has the much better offense right now (sans Butler and Arenas).  I'd say we should try to push the ball, but I don't expect that to happen tonight.

Picking our poison: Toronto's combination of the Jose Calderon/Chris Bosh screen and roll and the myriad of three-point shooters makes for a devastating offensive attack.  Yesterday, we did a great job at defending the three-point shooters, but we allowed Bosh (37 points, 12 rebounds) and Calderon (23 points, 13 assists) to hurt us.  The end result, however, was a win, so we should follow the same blueprint tonight.  Stop the shooters first, and then work your way to the pick and roll.  Just like yesterday.

Keys to the game: Rebounding, again.  Running a more efficient half-court offense.  Not being tired.  Everything that would have been key yesterday.

(I'm grasping at straws here).

This is an open game thread, so remember Juan Dixon here.

GO WIZARDS!

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