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The Nets take on the Raptors in Toronto

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Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Almost home. The Brooklyn Nets played an overtime game on Friday and went to Minnesota to face the Wolves on Saturday. The Nets sat Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young and lost by 18 points. The Nets have two more games to go before returning to Brooklyn, tonight in Toronto and Friday in Philadelphia. Then, their 9,000-mile tour of the U.S. will officially end.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Toronto Raptors. The Raps have had a great season and are within striking distance of the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference. They last played on Sunday when they lost to the Houston Rockets. After this, the Raps have three more games on their homestand before hitting the road.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV, WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off is after 7 PM.

Injuries

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is back practicing with the team, but there still isn't a timetable on his return.

DeMarre Carroll is inching closer to returning from knee surgery, but he's still out for the time being.

The game

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Toronto

Record

18-45 41-20

Pace

96.93 95.41

Offensive Efficiency

100.4 107.1

Defensive Efficiency

107.1 102.9

Turnover Rate

15.3 13.8

Assist Rate

17 14.9

Offensive Rebounding Rate

23.8 24.4

Rebound Rate

49.5 51.4

Free Throw Rate

24.2 33.1

Effective Field Goal Percentage

49.1 50.4

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

52.7 50

The Raptors won the first meeting at the beginning of January and the second one in the middle of the month.

Even though the Raps are in line to have a high seed, there is still some concern among people that watch the team on a day-to-day basis. Let Daniel Reynolds of Raptors HQ explain:

The fact is, we are all nervous about the Raptors. Even as they scale past 40 wins, and move towards a probable 50 win season for the first time in franchise history. This team, this franchise from Toronto, still hasn't won a playoff series since 2001. They've been beaten, even as a higher seed, twice in the last two years. And the bottom of the standings in the Eastern Conference, looking every day more and more like a growing mass of orcs preparing to lay siege, induces fear. To gaze into that abyss and see a healthy Chicago Bulls team, or a Paul George-led Pacers, or even those maniacs in Charlotte, is to see that fear made flesh. The panic is there.

A great finish to the season and a good showing in the playoffs will help the team and fanbase immensely.

The Nets offense has been much improved since Lionel Hollins got fired, and it might continue to shine tonight. Toronto has struggled of late defensively, allowing 100 or more points in five out of their last six games.

Lopez and Young should be well rested for this one. They led the team in minutes played and field goal attempts in Denver on Friday. They're Brooklyn's two best players, but they're also at positions where the Nets are trying to decide which backups to keep around next year. As we draw closer to April, Thomas Robinson, Willie Reed, and Chris McCullough will get more opportunities to showcase their skills against teams' starting big men. With three days off leading up to this game and two days off afterwards, Brook and Thad ought to see the majority of minutes if this game is close.

Markel Brown has been feeling good about his game recently. He's taken full advantage of the opportunity provided to him since Joe Johnson was waived and has shot 50 percent from the field in the six games since JJ's exit. He can make a lasting impression on Nets management by playing well against one of the best shooting guards in the league and one of this summer's marquee free agents. DeRozan is third in the NBA in free throw attempts, averaging almost nine a game in 36 minutes of action. He's made more of an effort to drive to the basket (league leading 12 times a game this year as compared to eight a night last season) and is taking more shots at the rim. Even if you cut off his drives, he can score in isolation and is a capable jump shooter. He's taken on more responsibility in the offense and has managed to get his teammates more involved than ever before while keeping his turnovers down. He's a good all around player that stands to get even better.

Player to watch: Kyle Lowry

You can make a great case for Lowry as being the best point guard in the Eastern Conference. He's a great rebounder for his position, does a great job of initiating the offense, and is a player you can count on to make big plays down the stretch of close games. If Toronto wants to make it to the Conference Finals and beyond, they're gonna need Lowry to play like a superstar in the playoffs.

The point guard competition between Shane Larkin and Donald Sloan will be something to keep a close eye on as we wind down the season. They've faced the league's best PGs recently and have managed to hang in some. It's incredibly unlikely either man is the starting PG come Opening Night 2016, but they can carve out roster spots for themselves if they play well the rest of the way.

From the Vault

Any time is the right time for Vince Carter highlights. Also, pay attention to the discussion about Charles Barkley thinking about a comeback.

More reading: Raptors HQ