Game #44 Preview: Toronto Raptors at New Jersey Nets

As this shortened season rolls on, the Nets play host to Atlantic Division foe Toronto at home. The Nets (as presently constituted) look to bounce back after a home loss to Milwaukee on Monday. As of this writing, the Raptors lead the Cavaliers in Cleveland. The funny thing about this game is the Nets are considered by some to be playoff contenders, and the Raptors have a better record and I haven't seen anyone call them playoff contenders.

Let's take a look at how these teams compare:

Offensive Efficiency

Defensive Efficiency

Turnover rate

Free throw rate

Offensive Rebounding %

Effective FG%

Opponent eFG%









New Jersey








League Average








I'm so used to the Raptors being awful at defense (they were the worst defense in the league the past 2 seasons) so them becoming league average is a great accomplishment. The offense is below average this year, but they've experienced injuries to Jose Calderon and Bargnani so that explains some of the problems on that end.

As for the Nets, as of this moment, they're still a crappy team. Will that change in the next couple of days. Maybe, but it hasn't happened yet so speculating about a possible playoff run with a new player that's not even here yet is extremely premature. Looking at the team, we see that they're pretty lousy at the defensive end. When you're bad at defense in general, don't force enough turnovers (20th in defensive turnover rate), and are awful on the defensive glass (3rd worst defensive rebounding rate), that's gonna lead to some terrible results.

Last time I saw you was: January 29

And before we jump into it, let's take a look back at a famous moment of another player who forced his way out of town.

Tip-off is at 7:30. Jump time.

Point Guard: Jerryd Bayless vs. Jordan Farmar/deron Williams (

Normally, the excellent Jose Calderon would be starting, but he's out with an ankle injury. In steps Bayless, who's been in the league 4 seasons and is already on his third team. He's not much of a shooter (.522 TS% isn't exactly great), but he's coming off a great night vs. Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers as he shot 6-13 (4-7 from 3) and had 7 assists. His three point shooting is at a career best this year (38%), so the already poor New Jersey three point defense will have to be extra careful here.

Assuming Williams is still out with his calf injury, Farmar will get the start once again. Not a particularly great shooting game against Milwaukee, but he did have 7 assists so it wasn't all bad.

Advantage: Raptors/Nets if Williams is in the lineup

Shooting Guard: Demar DeRozan vs. Marshon Brooks

I always think that DeRozan is just some random dunker and not much else. But my assumption isn't exactly correct, as the majority of his shots are jumpers, but he hasn't had a great shooting season anyway (.496 TS%). But he's an acceptable rebounder for a 2 guard and is young/athletic so there's hope for him to continue to develop.

The rookie year continues for MarShon, and it's been a decent one. DeRozan can match him athletically so he should have a bit of a challenge. As always, I'd rather he attack the basket and get more trips to the FT line, but what can you do.

Advantage: Nets

Small Forward: James Johnson vs. DeShawn Stevenson

Johnson is a solid contributor on the glass (11 rebound rate) and, going by the numbers available, a good defender too (opponent SF PER of 13 and the Raptors are 3 points on defense per 100 possessions better with him on the court).

For as much as I knock Stevenson, at least the Nets aren't as bad on defense (108 points per 100 possessions) with him on the court than without (114 points per 100 possessions). That's something, I guess.

Advantage: Raptors

Power Forward: Amir Johnson vs. Kris Humphries

Amir's had a good year. The majority of his offense is done inside and he's low-usage, but who's really checking when your TS% is 60%. With above average rebounding and good team defense with him on the court, he's a good guy to have on your side.

Humphries is coming off of his best game of the season. He had 31 points and 18 rebounds against the Bucks. Probably the most impressive things about that game were his aggressiveness (9-12 at the line) and his jumper (3-5 on shots from 16-23 feet). Very nice indeed.

Advantage: Even

Center: Andrea Bargnani vs. Shelden Williams

The former #1 pick is a bit of a polarizing figure. He's having his best season as we speak, but he missed time due to injury and for a number #1 pick, you expect more. The polarizing aspect of the big man is that some consider him a talent that can develop. Others consider him such a negative that his performance on the court actively takes away Toronto's chances of winning. I haven't been on the Wages of Wins in a while, and they like his play a little better than past seasons (granted, being the worst player in the league vs. below average isn't much of an accomplishment). He's still a below average rebounding center (rebound rate of 10; league average is 14), but his shooting is what's carrying the day for him (TS% of 56.6).

Shelden's a rebounder, and not much else. But if you were expecting offense out of him, then I don't know what to tell you.

Advantage: Raptors


Toronto: Leandro Barbosa, Ed Davis, Linas Kleiza, Aaron Gray

New Jersey: Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green, Johan Petro, Sundiata Gaines

Advantage: Raptors


Ironically, the only regular worse using WoW than Bargnani was Brook Lopez. Inefficient centers who don't rebound worth a damn hurt your chances to win games. Who knew?

Only two days to go until the trade deadline. Hooray!

Journey through the dark side: Raptors HQ

The mothership: Raptors vs Nets coverage

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