On almost any other day in the regular season, the Raptors would be squarely in the driver’s seat heading into tonight’s contest with the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.
And maybe they still are.
But riding an eight-game home winning streak that was interrupted by a five -day break for the all-star festivities, there is some concern in Raptorland that the edge the team was playing with that led to this turnaround, may have been lost or lessened over the break.
Memphis arrives in Toronto in the wee hours of Wednesday morning having just taken on the Phoenix Suns on their home court Tuesday night.
The Grizzlies are a much better team at home than on the road, but there is a case to be made that instead of a fatigued team, the Raps may be facing a team that has already got its post-break kinks ironed out in a game situation.
Raps head coach Jay Triano isn’t completely sure which team will have the advantage.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage for Memphis to be playing (Tuesday) and coming in here or whether it’s a disadvantage because it’s a back-to-back,” Triano said. “They’ve had a week off and we’ve had a week off and they’re getting one under their belt so I don’t know.”
Normally, the team facing the team that is in the midst of the back-to-back has the upper hand. The Raptors saw enough of that in the first half of the schedule.
But now with the schedule evening out and the Raptors playing more home games and fewer of those back-to-back sets — they have eight remaining — the feeling is it’s an opportunity to at least maintain their pre-break pace and perhaps even improve on it.
Chris Bosh, just back from another all-star weekend where he has established himself as a regular and a member of the NBA’s core elite, says the onus is on the players to take advantage when the schedule appears to be in their favour.
“At least we had a practice and a half,” Bosh said referring to Tuesday’s full practice and the brief get-together the team had Monday night following the break.
“Usually you only get that half and then you have to play,” Bosh said. “Our schedule was tough at first but now it’s more accommodating. We just have to take advantage of it. We have an extra day of rest and we have to make sure we come out (Wednesday) with that energy.”
Memphis holds a 1-0 lead in the season series after defeating the Raptors 115-107 in Memphis in the second game of the season.
Triano said trying to get anything from that game film is a waste of time.
“We can’t even look at that for a couple of reasons,” Triano said. “They are completely different and we are not doing things the same way defensively. We watched it but we were laughing at some of the things we were doing at that point in the year.”
Triano won’t be laughing though, if the Raptors come out of the gate after this break with any less an edge than the one they had heading into the all-star break.