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Nets head north for a daytime game against Raptors

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

The world tour goes international. The Brooklyn Nets got started with their six game road trip on Friday night in Detroit and held on for a six point victory. The win was their fourth in a row. When this one wraps up, they’ll be heading straight to Chicago to take on the Bulls on the second leg of a back-to-back.

The opponent today will be the Toronto Raptors. After a lost season in Tampa, the Raps are back home and are looking a lot better. It’s different now that Kyle Lowry is gone, but Nick Nurse and friends keep on trucking. They played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night and lost a nail biter by one point. The L snapped their five game winning streak.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN on radio. Brunch and basketball so the party’s getting started after 3:30 PM.

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton is out, but it looks like he’s starting to ramp up so he’s on the comeback trail. Kyrie Irving is also out but as Brian Lewis reports, he’ll be on the NBA All-Star ballot, setting up a possible return to play in Cleveland ... in February. There are no vaccine restrictions in the city.

Yuta Watanabe is out due to a left calf strain. Pascal Siakam is recovering from left shoulder surgery and is on the comeback trail. He’s listed as probable for this contest. Goran Dragic hasn’t played since October 25 and is out of the rotation.

The game

Fred VanVleet is running the show now, and he might mess around and get himself named to the All Star team. FVV leads the NBA in minutes (total and per game) and has adapted well to running the show. He does a great job probing the defense and is seventh in drives per game and a small guard that can break defenders down is super valuable.

On the one hand, James Harden picked up his second triple double of the season on Friday and is currently third in the league in assists. On the other, he leads the league in turnovers and still hasn’t had much success finishing at the rim. Also, I think the power in my guy’s controller ran out on this one...

That’s how it is, sometimes.

Expansion is on our minds as the push to get a WNBA team in Oakland is underway. Not to be outdone, Drake, Nick Nurse, and our friends in Toronto want to have a team of their own as well. Over at Raptors HQ, Chelsea Leite wrote about why expansion to the north would be successful:

Now if you’re worried there wouldn’t be enough fans to support this hypothetical Toronto WNBA team, I wouldn’t worry too much. #WNBAFinals was the #1 Trending Topic on Twitter in Canada during the 2021 WNBA Finals game on Sunday between the Chicago Sky and the Phoenix Mercury. This season’s WNBA opening weekend also saw a 325% increase of viewership in Canada, with the matchup between the Las Vegas Aces and the Seattle Storm on May 15th becoming the most viewed WNBA game in Canada’s history. Both TSN and Sportsnet broadcasted the most games in their history, and every game of the 2021 WNBA playoffs was available to watch on Canadian national TV. The Toronto Raptors’ historic women-led broadcast in March was also met with positive reviews by fans, only showing that Toronto basketball fans want more women involved in the sport here at home.

The more the merrier. Let’s get it.

The Raptors were stuck in Tampa last season, but thankfully they’re back home. All the Nets players are excited to be here, and Toronto has one of the loudest crowds in the league. If it’s close late, look for the crowd to play a factor in this one.

The Nets have gradually gotten better on the boards, and that will come handy against the third best rebounding team in the league. With this being leg one of a b2b, we’ll see how Steve Nash handles his big rotation with another tough one awaiting them tomorrow night in Chicago.

We met the number one pick on Friday, and today we get to meet the fourth pick! Scottie Barnes missed two games with a thumb sprain, but made his return on Friday night. The kid is averaging around 18 points and nine rebounds a night while shooting 52 percent from the field. Barnes’ solid play has Toronto excited for the future and with the imminent return of Siakam, gives Nurse one more good player to work with.

Player to watch: OG Anunoby

With Siakam out, Anunoby has stepped in up in a variety of ways. Friend of the site, Nekias Duncan, wrote this about OG for Basketball News:

Anunoby plays with a physicality that only a few wings in the league are comfortable with, much less equipped to deal with consistently. There have been counters added to his brute strength; his improving handle has allowed him to incorporate head-fakes and spins to get to his spots more effectively.

Like everyone else, OG doesn’t think he gets enough foul calls in his favor, so look for him and the Raps to work the refs a bit today.

Anunoby will have his hands full with Kevin Durant. It’s been a lifetime and a half since KD played in Toronto, but he’s back now and looking better than ever. Although he “only” went 12-27 on Friday, five of his shots rimmed out so you can chalk it up to the breaks of the game. Durant has been masterful for Brooklyn and with a fun matchup like this on deck, he’ll be putting on a show as he continues to lead the squad.

From the Vault

Yaeji did justice to one of my favorite Drake tracks. Get into it

More reading: Raptors HQ