clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Nets play the Raptors in Toronto on MLK Day

New, comments
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Everything's (still) terrible. The Brooklyn Nets played the Atlanta Hawks in the ATL on Saturday night as both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back. It was close for a half before Atlanta opened things up and cruised to a 28 point victory. It was the second time the Nets had lost by 25+ points that week.

Joining the Nets this evening will be the Toronto Raptors. The Raps have been having a great season atop the Atlantic Division and are second overall in the Eastern Conference. They've had a few days off since their last game, a 106-103 victory over the Orlando Magic in London on Thursday afternoon. They've won their last four games.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV with WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30.

Injuries

Sergey Karasev left Saturday's game with a sprained left ankle. Andrea Bargnani had to leave the game with a sore right ankle. Bargnani is questionable while Karasev is probable.

DeMarre Carroll underwent arthroscopic knee surgery the day of the Nets game and has been out of action since then.

The game

Check it out

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Toronto

Record

11-30 25-15

Pace

97.2 95.78

Offensive Efficiency

97.8 104.2

Defensive Efficiency

105.5

100.6

Turnover Rate

15.5 14.4

Assist Rate

16.4 14.6

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.4 24.6

Rebound Rate

50 51.5

Free Throw Rate

22.7 31.9

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.7 48.9

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52 49.1

The Raptors won the first meeting earlier this month.

We're still early in the process, but the early frontrunner for the General Manager position appears to be former Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo. Colangelo put most of the Raptors roster together, did quality work when he ran the Suns, and has a good reputation around the league. It'll be interesting to see what other names emerge in the GM chase.

The Nets have had trouble in third quarters for years, and this season has been more of the same. They've been outscored by close to seven points per 100 possessions, sixth worse in the league. Amazingly, they've been even worse in fourth quarters, as they've been outscored by 12 points per 100 possessions, worst in the league. A lot of that is thanks to the poor depth on the roster as the bench has been one of the worst units in the league. Tony Brown has the unenviable challenge of trying to find the right combination of bench players as well as making sure games aren't too far out of reach before he puts the starters back in.

Jonas Valanciunas has done a nice job since returning from the hand injury he suffered in mid November. In nine games, he's averaged 11 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes a night while shooting 54 percent from the field. He and Bismarck Biyombo have been the team's best rebounders and have helped the Raps be one of the best rebounding teams in the league.

Kyle Lowry has been having a career year with the Raptors and is a good bet to make the Eastern Conference All Star team. He's appeared in every game and is averaging career highs in minutes, points per game, free throws attempted, and three pointers attempted. He didn't make a three the first time he played the Nets, but still managed to score 17 points, hand out six assists, grab eight rebounds, and collect five steals. Lowry is top ten among guards in rebounds and thirteenth among all players in assists. That versatility has helped Toronto be the second best team in the East and for now at least, one of the only threats to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavs in the Conference.

Donald Sloan has done a good job of distributing the ball since he joined the starting lineup. Sloan has averaged six assists to only two turnovers in the four games since he replaced Shane Larkin (who replaced the injured Jarrett Jack) in the rotation. He hasn't been able to stretch the floor though, as he's only gone 9-25 on shots outside of the restricted area since January fourth. The Nets haven't had consistent outside shooting all season, and it's led to their offense being one of the worst in the league this season.

As we all know, Drake is a Raptors ambassador, and in solidarity with him, have stopped playing Meek Mill's music in their locker room. It's the little things that go a long way.

Player to watch: DeMar DeRozan

With the All Star Game being held in Toronto this year, DeRozan has a good chance of making the Eastern Conference squad for the second straight season. He's had a terrific season, but had a pretty lousy game in London vs the Magic. He's never been one to take a bunch of three pointers, and this season, only ten percent of his shots have come from deep. He's taken the majority of his shots inside of ten feet and it's led to him having a career high free throw rate. Over at Raptors HQ, John Guades noted this development and the ghost of Sean Penn got a hold of him as he wrote:

But can we return to that concept of grey area? DeRozan has made his career of shooting in the grey areas of the basketball floor. Those who study the game as I have understand that there is no love to be drawn from shots from a distance, shots that constitute the same number of points as a shot from close.

Sixteen feet to 22 feet away from that floating orange target, DeRozan has performed woefully but hoped strongly in the past. This year, he has become wiser to his struggles. He has turned down the desire to shoot the basketball from distances that have proven him weak in the past. He is instead attacking that orange target with all his might, into the hands of grunting, powerful men standing seven feet and taller, limbs long, bending at joints held together with the inward force of rippling muscles. David driving into Goliath, he lifts off, paradoxically contorting his body away from and into the men he challenges. They create contact in the air, an athletic ballet, and our hero is given two free shots.

DeRozan is a free agent this summer and figures to draw interest from teams like the Nets and the Lakers. So far at least, it looks like he'll be staying put with the organization he's known his entire professional life:

"Toronto is all I’ve known, honestly. I came in, 19, everything was completely new for me. I appreciated the support, the love. I treated it like home since then.

"My whole goal was to get us out of that light and become a winning team, a winning organization. From going to winning 20-someting games, to winning our division, franchise-record wins, that’s something you can definitely be happy for. It’s amazing to see how far it came. I remember [Toronto] being just a hockey town."

We're a long way away from the summer, but if the Raps continue on the pace they're currently, they'll keep DeRozan up north. A better showing in the playoffs will do wonders for him and the team as well.

From the Vault

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day, so take some time to listen to a speech he gave in NYC in September of 1962.

More reading: Raptors HQ