The Toronto Raptors, who have been rolling as of late, will bump into the Brooklyn Nets in Manhattan, a team who has also been playing great basketball recently. The Raptors (45-30) are hoping to keep their 50-win season alive, while the Nets (34-40) are playing with a sense of urgency, hoping to keep their play-off hopes alive and stay within the last three spots of the Eastern conference seeding.
This will be the Raptors first look at Thaddeus Young in the Nets’ uniform, who was acquired back in February via trade. Kyle Lowry‘s status is currently unknown, but not expected to play in tonight’s bout. The Raptors are hoping to take the season series, for the first time since 2009-2010, and with a possibility of these two teams meeting again in the post-season, it’ll be nice for the team to have momentum heading into the series – again if they do meet.
Raptors Cage’s Keys To The Game
Big task for Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson, and the rest of the inside guys, as they deal with Brook Lopez, who has been playing out of his mind as of late, along with Mason Plumlee and Young. Those individuals are going to have their major tasks this evening, but it will certainly be a team effort and emphasis in defending in the paint. The Raptors will have to dig down deeper in this game, and make the correct defensive play and rotation needed for every situation.
2. Stay Poised
The Nets are a team that absolutely take advantage of momentum, something the Raptors are familiar with since last season. When things get a little out of hand, it starts with Dwane Casey; find a way to get your team calm, and draw up the right plays for each situation. For the team itself, it’s a long, 48-minute game, play with energy, and stick to your principles; or at least the principles which has put you in a winning position lately.
3. Move The Ball
The Raptors have really improved in their recent play in terms of moving the ball, and sharing it with one another. Simple key; get that ball moving, and you’ll get the defence out of position, creating open perimeter shots, and easy baskets on the inside.
X-Factor: DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan might be having his best month not only of the season, but of his career. His play-making has thoroughly improved, he’s rebounding the basketball at a high level, he’s scoring efficiently for the most part, and is getting to the free-throw line countlessly. Find him in any way possible; off screens, off pin-downs, cuts, and with his back to the basket. Also, make an emphasis for him to have the ball, because his ability to find players and create shots for others is second to none, especially in the final seconds in the game comes down to it.