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Nets look for payback vs. Raptors

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"Hey girl"
"Hey girl"
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

February is already going much better than January. The Brooklyn Nets managed to avoid some history as well as end a four game losing streak with a last second win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. They're still nine games under .500 and out of the playoff standings, there's a possibility they might sneak into the postseason.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Toronto Raptors. They're having a great season and are on track to win their second straight Atlantic Division title. They did lose their last game, an 82-75 defeat at home to the Milwaukee Bucks. This is might two of a five game homestand leading up to the All Star break. They host the Clippers, Spurs, and Wizards after this.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on the TV and WFAN 101.9 on the radio. Tip off is set for after 7:30.

Injuries

Mirza Teletovic is still out for the season, but should be back and ready to go next season. In related news, advance scout and assistant coach Joe Sann will be at home resting after suffering a heart attack on Sunday. Shout out to Tim Walsh, Matt Horton, Lloyd Beckett, Alessandro Oliviera and John Rink for helping save Sann's life.

Backup forward James Johnson is questionable with a hamstring injury.

The game

What's the story? Let's find out:

2014-2015 Season

Brooklyn Toronto

Record

19-28 33-16

Pace

94.44 95.86

Offensive Efficiency

99.9 109

Defensive Efficiency

104.4 104.2

Turnover Rate

15 13.1

Assist Rate

16.3 16.3

Offensive Rebounding Rate

22.9 26.7

Rebounding Rate

48.7 49.8

Free Throw Rate

26.8 30.1

Effective Field Goal Percentage

48.7 50.9

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

50.4 50.6

The Raptors won the first meeting in December and the second at the end of January.

In the rumor department, the Nets might be bringing back Andray Blatche. He's been in China this season and has drawn interest from the Nets and Memphis Grizzlies.

Deron Williams is back for the Nets and they've needed him in the worst way. With Deron back, the Nets have another scoring option but more importantly, someone else that can run the offense. As he gets more comfortable following the extended absence, his play will improve. In the meantime, he'll be coming off of the bench. Jarrett Jack only shot 3-11 on Monday night, but one of the three was...

So it's all good. He'll be seeing Kyle Lowry for the second time in less than a week. He outplayed Lowry on Friday and set a career high in points (35) and minutes played (52). Barring something unforseen, he won't have to play that many minutes tonight. Lowry is one of the best point guards in the Eastern Conference and will look to put constant pressure on Jack and D-Will when he has the ball. He hasn't been as good as you might expect defensively, but for one game he might be able to slow down the Nets PG duo.

Kevin Garnett is still the starter, but he doesn't see large amounts of minutes anymore. He's good for around 17 to 20 minutes a night these days. While he's out there, he'll look to chase Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson off the three point line. They're actually the two best three point shooters on the team this year and can help space the floor for the Raps offense.

One big question is how much Brook Lopez will contribute. Although he's been on the block --and before that in Lionel Hollins' doghouse, Lopez has been a monster during the Nets last three games, averaging 25.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks as well as shooting 55.9 percent overall and 91.7 percent from the line.  His biggest line --and best game in ages-- came vs. Toronto where he scored 35 points, grabbed 12 rebounds. blocked three shots and shot 15-of-28.

As D-Will said of him, "Early on, I think him and Lionel were having some differences of the style they wanted him to play.

"I think Coach kind of accepted that Brook is who he is. It is definitely benefiting Brook as a player right now and I think us as a team because he is really comfortable out there and being aggressive."

Player to watch: Jonas Valanciunas

The third year big man from Lithuania has taken another step forward. He's averaging around 13 points and nine rebounds a night with career highs in field goal and free throw percentages. JV scores almost exclusively on the inside, but that's not a problem at all. He's also dramatically cut down on his turnovers and those extra possessions have turned a good offense into one of the league's best.

He's still coming off the bench, but Lopez is getting the majority of the minutes in the frontcourt. Nets fan will be happy to know that most of his offense has been coming close to the basket in recent games. When the big guy is down there, he can draw more fouls and have a better chance of scoring as compared to being out in the high post area. He and Mason Plumlee will team up to keep Valanciunas off the glass. JV is one of the league's best on that end and Plumlee will see him first. There are still major questions as to whether Plumlee and Lopez can play well together, and between now and the trading deadline, they'll look to make it work.

From the Vault

Head on back to the 2008 Three Point Contest and see Jason Kapono, who turns 34 today, put in work.

More reading: Raptors HQ