The NBA season is here. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2012-13 season and to take a look at what the season might have in store — especially when it comes to the Magic. Be sure to look out for more of these team capsules and to check out all the blogs taking part in this year's NBA Blog Preview (don't worry, I will be linking to all of them in the next few weeks … months … this preview IS never-ending, afterall).
Last Year/This Year: 23-43/2-6
This Year vs. Magic: Nov. 18 in Toronto; Dec. 21 in Toronto; Dec. 29 in Orlando; Jan. 24 in Orlando
Magic Connection: Assistant coach Johnny Davis (Head Coach 2003-05); Assistant coach Tom Sterner (Assistant Coach 1994-2002, 2005-07)
The Previews: Scott Campsall/Raptors HQ
The Toronto Raptors had it all mapped out.
DeMar DeRozan was a quiet young player waiting to bust out and become a star. Andrea Bargnani was a stretch-4 who would give the team floor-stretching shooting. Kyle Lowry was the missing piece, a breakthrough point guard who could run an offense while being a threat in his own right, a great complement to Jose Calderon.
Of course, that is not how it has ended up. Bargnani can shoot the ball, but little else. Calderon is still in Toronto and holding down the starting job. Lowry is on the bench injured yet again. And DeRozan signed an extension based mostly on the potential that he will finally break through.
Toronto was talking playoffs in the preseason, but it is becoming harder to envision that actually coming true.
The Raptors are still a very young team. They remain a team without any dead-eye shooters — Bargnani is a good shooter for his size, but not quite at a level teams fear yet — and without a consistent offensive threat. There is not many options for Lowry and Calderon to pass to. And that is provided Lowry and Calderon accept splitting the point guard or whatever role Dwane Casey gives them.
The one thing the Raptors do have is Casey and that could be what gives Toronto hope for improvement and a chance at achieving the franchise's lofty goals. Casey brought a defensive mentality to the team and the Raptors improved dramatically defensively. Mentality can only get you so far and so bringing in a rookie in Jonas Valanciunas to protect the rim some will help.
But it will not get Toronto over the top.
How the Raptors Will Beat the Magic: The Raptors can beat the Magic if they make shots. That has been the big struggle for Toronto's offense but there are capable shooters if Orlando is not careful. Bargnani can hit shots. Calderon can hit shots too. Orlando has fallen asleep a few times in transition and allowed cutters to get to the basket. And so all of that will be in play when the Magic take on the Raptors. The Raptors have to use some of their athletic wings to atttack the basket without the ball and hit 3-pointers when they are given the open looks.
How the Magic Will Beat the Raptors: I think Glen Davis could have a decent game and eliminate Bargnani from the occasion by winning this matchup. Bargnani is not much of a defender and so to get him out of the game, Davis has to be aggressive and look to post up more and attack the basket. Otherwise, Orlando needs to get out in transition and limit Toronto to one shot in order to get the most out of this matchup. Neither team has a great offensive perimeter threat and so the game will come down to execution. This should make Jameer Nelson's matchup with Jose Calderon all the more important too.