Game Day: Raptors vs. Bobcats

NBA.com Preview | Game Notes

Probable Starters

TOR – Jerryd Bayless (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), James Johnson (F), Andrea Bargnani (F), Aaron Gray (C).
CHA –
D.J. Augustin (G), Gerald Henderson (G), Corey Maggette (F), Tyrus Thomas (F), Bismack Biyombo (C)

Key Injuries

TOR – Jose Calderon (right ankle sprain) day-to-day
CHA
None

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s what I’m keeping an eye on tonight as the Raptors close out a back-to-back against the Bobcats in Charlotte.

Monitoring Il Mago: Andrea Bargnani logged 39 minutes last night in yesterday’s OT win over the Grizzlies, easily his highest total since coming back from that bad calf strain that shelved him for a stretch of 26 out of 28 games. Given the Raptors travel adventures (more below) and that tonight is a second game in as many nights, keep an eye on Bargnani’s minutes. Ed Davis played just 10 minutes in Friday’s win and should be more than ready for a long night.

Big Backcourt Play: In the first game after the Raptors traded Leandro Barbosa, they received some outstanding play from their guards in Friday’s win. Jerryd Bayless (28 points, nine assists, six rebounds) and Gary Forbes (career-high 20 points) — two players expected to get more opportunity with the Brazilian Blur moving on — really responded in particular. They’ve got to do it consistently however, so watch if they can keep it rolling in North Carolina.

Tough Test: The Raptors overcame some serious hurdles in the form of a physical Grizzlies team, another Rudy Gay dagger and their own mental miscues down the stretch. Is it another possible sign of growth this season under Dwane Casey or simply one of many gutsy efforts this season where the Raptors came out on top?

Tonight provides an interesting test of that against a Bobcats team that’s won five straight meetings, including a disheartening 98-91 Raptors defeat back on February 17 at ACC. That loss came immediately after a stretch where the Raptors beat the Celtics and played the Lakers, Knicks and Spurs about as close as possible before that letdown effort on Fan Night.

Tired Legs: After one of the more hard-fought, physical battles the Raptors have had in quite some time in Memphis, the adversity continued when they boarded the team plane post-game. I leave it to director of Raptors media relations Jim LaBumbard, the radio team of Eric Smith and Paul Jones plus a cameo from an unconcerned Amir Johnson to tell the tale.

With the Raptors heading straight to Time Warner Cable Arena directly from the airport after a midday flight from Memphis, it could be a tired bunch tonight for a sixth game in eight nights.

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