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Nets play host to Raptors in nationally televised game

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Sacramento Kings v Toronto Raptors Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

Showcase showdown. The Brooklyn Nets sought to bounce back after an ugly Sunday loss and had the difficult task of beating the red hot Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets were more than up for the challenge and came away with a close four point win in front of a national television audience. See what happens when you don’t trick games off?

The opponent tonight will be the Toronto Raptors. Nick Nurse and friends are road warriors this season as their home games are in Tampa, Florida and not the friendly confines of Toronto. It’s been a tough road for them this season but they’re still fighting to hang in there. They’ve won their last two games after wrapping up a two game sweep of the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and ESPN on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 7:30 PM. The game will also be shown nationally in Canada on TSN.

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton and Spencer Dinwiddie are out. Norvel Pelle had his first practice Thursday and could make his debut. Iman Shumpert will practice for the first time Friday.

OG Anunoby and Patrick McCaw are out.

The game

This is the first leg of a back-to-back for the Nets. They’re in Philly to play the 76ers Ssturday night.

On a stylistic note, those Jean-Michel Basquiat jerseys and the court are A+++. Nets will bring em back Friday and every time they have a showcase game.

With this being the first half of a back-to-back and a big game awaiting the team in Philadelphia, I wonder how Steve Nash will manage the rotations and minutes of the team tonight. DeAndre Jordan didn’t start due to the matchup disadvantage he faced against the Clippers, but I think he’ll be back in there tonight and almost certainly Saturday in Philly.

The Nets are a difficult problem to solve. Ostensibly, somebody is the third option on offense. But as an opponent, what do you even do when the third option is someone as amazing as Kevin Durant? KD only took 13 shots and had a relatively low usage right, but was marvelous as he scored 28 points and played crucial defense on Kawhi Leonard late in the game. For all the legitimate questions we have about Brooklyn’s defense, if it’s close, the Nets have one of the game’s greatest players of all time ready to raise hell and bury their opponents in an avalanche of jumpers.

It’s a difficult adjustment to becoming the top guy of a franchise, and it’s one Pascal Siakam has had to continue to get used to. He got benched one game this season for disciplinary measures and while he’s been fine enough, he’s a bit streakier than we’d like. Jackson Rakoczy of Raptors HQ has more:

Yes, it is human nature for confidence to build off early success, but star players in the NBA cannot fall prey to that mentality. They are in the position they are in because they are unnatural, in the best sense of the term, and that needs to reflect in their mindset.

Right now, Pascal’s approach is that of an amateur Texas hold’em player. If he rakes in a couple early pots, then his game opens up and he can really win big. Lose a few hands, however, and he folds up, wary of losing even more, content to just bleed out the blinds as the game slips away.

When you’re the team’s top star, you have to be able to be counted on for solid performances every night. The Raptors will need more from him if they hope to keep their playoff streak alive.

Two side notes: This will be the first time the Raps will face Steve Nash, hero of Canadian basketball, AND the first time Kevin Durant has faced off against Toronto since he tore his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

Player to watch: Fred Van Vleet

Don’t you just love it when a player gets their career high right before they see you next? Fred Van Vleet had the game of his life on Tuesday as he set the Raptors franchise record (!!!!!) for points in a game with 54 and 3-pointers made with 11. I saw Imman of the awesome Dishes and Dimes Pod tweet this out, and this is amazing:

Life is funny sometimes. FVV has grown into a franchise stalwart for the Raptors and as his career continues, he’ll keep getting better and continue being a fan favorite.

He started a bit slowly, but that didn’t last too long. Kyrie Irving started fairly slowly, but he turned the heat up to 400 degrees in the second half. I mean, look at this shit, man:

What do you even DO with that? With James Harden running point for the Nets, Irving is free to get buckets and rain down hellfire on opponents. Ky is still a good distributor, but he’s absolutely electric as a scorer and when he’s on fire, very few players in the NBA can keep up with him. He was spunky on defense against the Clippers and he’s going to keep working to be passable on that end. As long as the Nets are in it close, they can sprint by teams to the finish line.

From the Vault

It’s Black History Month here in the States, and as we think about Black history here, it’s worth thinking about how other countries celebrate Black History Month. I came across an incredibly great article by writer Bee Quammie that talked about what Canada does for February and how it treats Black history:

When we talk about Black history, we must be deliberate about setting its foundation in Canada. Black experiences transcend the physical borders that limit them, but we must resist the murky idea of a homogeneous Black community. We must not try to fit Black Canadians into an assumed African-American template—or, perhaps worse, assuming there is no uniqueness or significance at all. Otherwise, we will be unable to understand the moment we find ourselves in presently, and unable to forge a better future that serves Black people in Canada.

If Blackness across the globe is a kaleidoscope, it’s time to shake things up, turn the lens and really focus on Black Canadian perspectives. Everyone should see the brilliance, beauty and complexity that has shaped—and continues to shape—this country.

She mentioned an important figure that I didn’t know about, a woman named Viola Desmond. Let’s learn about her

More reading: Raptors HQ