The Toronto Raptors will hope to get their home record back to winning ways quickly as they prepare to face off against the visiting Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors dropped their first game at home since January after they went down 113-107 against the Houston Rockets but should face an easier test tonight.
The game comes in the middle of a seven game home stand for the Raptors. Toronto has won both match ups with the Nets so far this season and can stay on track for a rare season sweep against their Atlantic division rivals with another win tonight.
Brooklyn comes into the game with the second worst record in the East and are coming off a recent loss, going down 132-118 to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Luckily for Toronto, Joe Johnson will not give the Raptors any more trouble as he has taken his services to Miami. Former Raptors’ number 1 draft pick Andrea Bargnani also wont be around as he was waived in late February and is yet to find another home. Another former Raptors in Jarrett Jack will also miss the game due to an ACL injury, DeMarre Carroll is still out for Toronto.
Expected Starters, Toronto- DeMar Derozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Luis Scola and James Johnson; Brooklyn- Donald Sloan, Wayne Ellington, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez
Cage’s Keys to the game
Before the All-Star game the Raptors ranked 9th in defence and have ranked 27th in games since that glorious weekend. They gave up 115 to Portland and then 113 to Houston. In the last two games we have seen the opposition’s star player rack up big numbers – Damian Lillard had 50 points and Houston’s James Harden managed to drop 40. Brooklyn can be capable of scoring, but the Raptors have held them well below 100 in both past games this season. The same again would go along way to seeing the Raptors through for the W.
Watch out for Thaddeus Young
Thaddeus Young was talked about as a possible trade target for the Raptors in February and was rested in the Nets loss to Minnesota. He is the current Nets leader in rebounds while still averaging 15 points per game. Both him and leading scorer Brook Lopez will come into this game fresh and could be a handful if the Raptors let them get going at any stage during the evening.
Don’t give up another big lead
The Raptors have seen big leads start to evaporate in recent games, considering the position of the two sides they very well could gain another one tonight. Obviously they need to maintain it for all four quarters because it is certainly not out of character for a team like Brooklyn to make a run and close the game.
X-Factor: Patrick Patterson
With all the trade talk about Patrick Patterson and other power forwards in the league during February, we’ll see in tonight’s match up just why it was a good decision to keep him around. With the team’s need to emphasize defence after the past two games, hopefully Patterson can bring his usual energy and is able to reduce the impact that Young and the other Nets forwards can have.