1. “Give it to the Italian”
Andrea Bargnani, by managing to score 20+ points per game last year, became vastly overrated by non-Raptors fans. He actually provided little to no value on the whole, with his inefficient style of scoring as well as being one of the worst defensive players in the NBA and a sad rebounder. Under new coach Dwane Casey, who was on the Mavericks bench last year and designed the defense that shut Miami down in the Finals, Bargnani has picked up the intensity on the end of the floor fans seemingly couldn’t care less about, becoming a much better player in the process.
Of course, the reason Bargnani plays in the NBA is because of his diverse offensive arsenal. While he’s more than willing to jack up threes, he also has a solid post and midrange game. Injuries have derailed him some lately, but he’s a tough cover for opposing centers. Look for the Sixers to rotate his defenders – you’ll definitely see our three-man frontline rotation along with possibly Lavoy Allen picking up the assignment to cover the former number one overall pick. All will have to manage the Jose Calderon-Bargnani pick-and-roll well to shut down Toronto’s offense.
2. DeMar DeRozan’s offense, or lack thereof
Assuming Andre Iguodala plays tonight (he’s listed as “available” according to Sixers PR guru Mike Preston), DeMar DeRozan will be in for the fight of his life, at least on a basketball court. DeRozan is a one-dimensional scorer, with a sweet midrange game but little else. He also has a severe case of tunnel vision, averaging more turnovers than assists – he’d be the NBA’s ball hog posterchild if it weren’t for someone named Nick Young who now plays in LA.
So you have a guy who is determined to score who is also only effective within 20 feet. It sounds like an Iguodala shut down game to me.
3. Unleash the Turner
Evan Turner, despite the loss, had another good game last night. But as I mentioned in the game review, the scoring output seemed a bit fluky, given the competition. With the majority of his minutes likely to be defended by James Johnson (a poor man’s Iguodala) or DeRozan, he won’t have as easy of a time scoring the basketball. But that doesn’t mean he can’t score – it will just be more difficult against his primary defenders. I would actually like to see Turner receive minutes at the point tonight – Calderon can run the offense well but Turner should have too much trouble defending him, and Turner can abuse Calderon on the other end.