Tonight, the Toronto Raptors hope improve their division record to 10-0 as they matchup against the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in five days. The last time these two teams met the game went into a thrilling overtime period seeing the Raptors squeak away with a 127-122 victory on the road. This game marks the second game of Toronto’s five-game homestand. The Raptors (33-16) sit 13 games ahead of the second place Nets (19-28) who are coming off an impressive win against Toronto’s next opponent; the Los Angeles Clippers. Last time around the outcome of the match came down to late game heroics from DeMar DeRozan and the unmatched effort of Amir Johnson.
Toronto will once again be without the services of James Johnson who’s out with a hamstring injury.
Cages Keys to the Game:
In their last matchup, Toronto’s interior defence was downright laughable. Brook Lopez came off the bench for the Nets and lit the Raptors up for 35 points and 12 rebounds. Former Raptor Jarrett Jack, who went 1 for 7 from beyond the arc also finished with 35 points of his own. Toronto gave up 64 points in the paint to the Nets, failing to show any signs of interior resistance. Patrick Patterson; who’s been a revelation of late will once again be needed to step up in the forced absence of Jonas Valanciunas who has seen unnecesarry rides on the pine when the game clock hits those final 12 minutes. We’re looking at you Dwane Casey.
Control the Pace
The Raptors play their best basketball when they’re able to control the pace of the game. In their last matchup with the Nets, Brooklyn dictated the tempo allowing them to get up an absurd 101 shot attempts. The big three of Joe Johnson, Lopez and Jack combined for 74 of those 101 attempts. The key to coming away with a victory tonight is to slow down these boys from Brooklyn and hold them to under 100 points. If the Raptors do that, they’ll put themselves in a prime position to come away with a win.
This key to the game is pretty self-explanatory. If you caught any of the Bucks game, the Raptors just didn’t have it. The starters (with the exception of JV) weren’t able to put up numbers against an undermanned Bucks team. Leo Rautins at halftime said Toronto didn’t stand a chance of losing this game…and boy was he ever wrong. Toronto suffered possibly one of their worst home defeats of the season on Monday night, and will be looking for redemption not only for themselves, but for the fans that are out there supporting as well.
The X-Factor in this game against the Nets will the big Lithuanian, Jonas Valanciunas. After doing such a great job “in the paint, in that situation” against the Bucks and not seeing any action in the fourth, JV should be a big part of tonight’s game. The Nets have ‘real centres’ in Lopez and Plumlee, so Casey should consider giving JV some real minutes.