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Desperate Nets head to Toronto in search of a victory

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NBA: Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing comes easy. The Brooklyn Nets played host to a New Orleans Pelicans team that was missing Anthony Davis but still couldn’t get the job done as they lost 104-95 last night. The loss marks their eighth straight defeat and they are solidly in the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Toronto Raptors. Toronto's having another great season and are on pace to win their fourth straight Atlantic Division. They played their biggest threat in the division and beat the Celtics on Tuesday evening. Get used to seeing the Raps on your local programming over the next couple of days. They play the Knicks on Sunday before playing the Nets again on Tuesday.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip after 7:30.

Injuries

Jeremy Lin is out. Isaiah Whitehead left yesterday’s game due to a knee injury, but he expects to be out there tonight.

Patrick Patterson didn’t practice yesterday, but he should

The game

The Raptors won the first meeting back in December.

The league has gotten smarter over the past six years. Teams have traded in midrange jumpshots in exchange for more drives to the rim and three point attempts. The Nets have done the same, except there’s a slight problem. They’re not any good at shooting three pointers. Brooklyn is third in three pointers attempted a game, averaging around 33 a night. However, they’re the third worst in efficiency, only making 33.4 percent of their attempts from deep. They need to trade in some of those threes and get shots closer to the rim. I promise I’m not Charles Barkley. Get off my lawn.

The person at the front of the line for the Nets is Brook Lopez. It doesn’t feel like it, but his post up attempts are pretty similar from last season even with the dramatic increase in three pointers. However, the increase in threes has shown itself in the amount of shots he’s taken inside of three feet. Of his field goal attempts, only 23.7 percent have come inside of three feet, the lowest since the 2010-2011 season. When he does get the ball close, he’s been his usual efficient self. The Nets can work to get Lopez even more shots close to the rim in order to jumpstart their offense.

The Nets will have their hands full chasing DeMar DeRozan around. DeRozan has been one of the best players in the East this year and is averaging 28.2 points per game, tied with Isaiah Thomas for fourth in the league. He makes a killing in the midrange, where he’s made 43 percent of his shots attempted. He’s also a great driver and finisher at the rim and that skill comes in incredibly handy when your team’s offense is in a dry spell. Joe Harris and Bojan Bogdanovic will be the ones assigned to Derozan. Harris was inserted into the starting lineup at the beginning of the month when he filled in for an injured Rondae Hollis Jefferson and has remained in the lineup once RHJ returned. He was expected to provide some more shooting, but has only made four three pointers in the last five games. Assuming Harris remains in the starting five going forward, they’re going to need a lot more from him.

Player to watch: Kyle Lowry

You can make a case for Lowry being the best point guard in the East. He’s got career highs in field goal percentage, three point percentage and is on track to set a career high in assists. Lowry is someone who can carry your offense for extended periods of time. He and DeRozan have made for a dynamic duo and will be Cleveland’s biggest threat in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Spencer Dinwiddie figures to get the majority of the minutes tonight. He covered for Whitehead last night and while he didn’t score, he did pick up seven rebounds and four assists. Like a lot of Nets, Dinwiddie needs to take better control of the ball. He’s second on the team in turnover rate and for a team that needs to get the most out of every possession, the Nets need to be more careful. This could be another good opportunity for Caris Levert to match up against one of the league’s best players. Levert has taken more responsibility as he’s played more and has been the team’s only bright spot during their current losing streak,

From the Vault

Tracy McGrady was nominated for the Basketball Hall of Fame a few months back. He was a good Raptor and an even better Rocket. We’ll see what the voters think of his candidacy in April.

More reading: Raptors HQ