Remember Mike Tyson's Punch-out!!? Tonight's matchup feels like a matchup between Little Mac and Mike Tyson but I think Raps can beat Kobe Bryant! Ok, Ok, Ok.....I know it may be a stretch but here's what the Raps have to do to beat the Lakers.
Here's the Tale of the Tape:
Home Record 8-1
Offense 107.5 ppg
Defense 93.7 ppg
Home Offense 108.9 ppg
Home Defense 95.4 ppg
Away Record 4-3
Offense 97.9 ppg
Defense 98.9 ppg
Away Offense 92.1 ppg
Away Defense 93.1 ppg
Away Defense 93.1 ppg
"Copy Detroit, Raps!"
OK, so the record alone speaks for itself. Kobe's Lakers are the best team in the league. The Lakers own one loss this season BUT that came from a matchup at HOME against an Eastern Conference team in the Detroit Pistons. Detroit kept the Lakers under 100 points and played tough defense on Kobe. So if the Raptors can match that defensively, they'll have a chance.
"Increase Offensive Production!"
Defensively, the Raps statistically match up with the Lakers. The biggest mismatch? Offense. Lakers average 107 points per game vs. the Raps 97 points per game. How can the Raps overcome this? More offensive production from starters Anthony Paker and Andrea Bargnani. When the Pistons beat the Lakers, all 5 starters scored in double figures including Kwame Brown.......yes, KWAME BROWN! Raps need some decent offensive production from guys off of the bench like Joey Graham (let's put together a string of good games!) and some big buckets from Jason Kapono.
"Take Advantage of the Injuries!"
Let's see how the injury factor plays out. It sounds like Andrew Bynum is playing through a foot injury and Jermaine O'neal may be a game-time decision. If J.O. can go tonight, that should be a huge help to the Raps' offense and defense. In my opinion, the Raps win the bigs matchup with Bosh-Bargs-O'Neal vs. Pau-Radmanovic-Bynum.
"Don't let Kobe score 81!"
This will be the biggest challenge for the Raps.....shutting down Kobe Bryant. The Raps' defense has been questionable this season. Anthony Parker/Jose Calderon have to contain to Kobe. The Pistons kept Kobe to 12 of 30. Raps may have to pull Joey Graham off the bench to play some rugged defense on Kobe to hopefully throw him off his game.
"You the man now, Bosh! Live up to the MVP chatter"
Chris Bosh has to live up to his MVP chants. The biggest challenge for him is to compete against the reigning MVP. The Raptors also have to prove that they are a playoff contender this year, and prove that they can move past the first round. Chris Bosh has been a beast but now he has to show that he can make his team better, and increase production out of his teammates Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon.
A win may be unrealistic, but if the Raps can at least go 12 rounds with the Lakers, they'll make some noise around the league.