Oh dear. The Brooklyn Nets came home from their road trip hoping to put together another solid effort. However, the Philadelphia 76ers made sure that didn't happen and they ran the Nets out the gym on Sunday evening.
The opponent this evening will be the Toronto Raptors. It's been a dream season for the Raps and a great showing in the playoffs will go a long way for them and their fans. They've been hanging out in the city after beating up the Knicks on Sunday. They've won their last eight games.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM. Tip off after 7:30.
Jarrett Allen is questionable with a sore left foot. Isiaah Whitehead has been recalled for the Raptors game.
OG Anunoby is doubtful with an ankle injury.
DeMar DeRozan has been incredibly important on the court, but what he's doing off the court may have a longer lasting impact. He's been very open about depression and mental health and spoke about it recently
The more work we do to remove the stigma surrounding mental health, the better our society will be.
Back on the court, DeRozan has been sensational. He won the Player of the Week for the fifth time this year and will probably wind up in the top five of the MVP balloting. We know he's a great finisher at the rim, but it's his jump shot that will carry the Raps far. He's taking more three-pointers than usual, but is shooting a respectable (based on his career marks) 31.9 percent from downtown. He's most comfortable in the midrange area and is shooting a career-high 43.4 percent on shots from 16 feet to the three-point line. It's important for players to know their limitations and build on their strengths instead of forcing things just to fit a particular paradigm. It'll be up to Allen Crabbe to slow DD down. If he can limit DeRozan's free-throw attempts and drives to the rim, it will make defending him a little less challenging. On the other side, Crabbe is a few threes away from climbing into second place in team history for threes made during a season.
With Allen dealing with an injury, we might see more of Jahlil Okafor. Big Jah has been a ghost for almost a month, but did make an appearance on Sunday night. He only played 5:48, but did make two shots. It's a stretch to assume he'll play big minutes tonight, but he should have more of a role going forward as the season concludes. Brooklyn's smorgasbord of big men will look to keep Jonas Valanciunas off the boards. JV is the team's leading rebounder and serves as their third scoring option in the starting lineup.
Player to watch: CJ Miles
Miles has been a bit of a Nets killer throughout his career. He averages 10 points a game on 43 percent shooting from three-point range, both among the higher marks of his career against certain teams. CJ plays a big role on the best bench unit in the league. Toronto's bench outscores teams by almost ten points per 100 possessions, tops in the NBA. Having a strong bench like this preserves your starters and keeps everyone healthy for the long slog that is the regular season.
Caris Levert will look to captain the Nets second unit. While the Raptors bench has dominated, the Nets bench has been the polar opposite. Brooklyn's second unit has been outscored by 5.6 points per 100 possessions, tied for second worst in the league. It's hard to string victories together when the second team isn't able to keep things steady while the starters are out.
From the Vault
If things break right, we could get a National Championship rematch between Villanova and North Carolina. I’ll be on time for that.
And on a somber note, Craig Mack passed away yesterday. He was a solid artist in his own right and was a part of one of the best remixes in rap history.
More reading: Raptors HQ
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Toronto Raptors Game Notes - Toronto Raptors
- Raptors visit struggling Nets in search of 9th straight win - Yahoo!
- Nets turn rare Caris LeVert miscue into teaching moment - Joseph Staszewski - New York Post
- Kenny Atkinson demands effort from Nets no matter what - Brian Heyman - Newsday
- Game Preview: Nets vs. Raptors - Doug Smith - Toronto Star