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Nets try to avoid season sweep against the Raptors

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Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It goes on and on and on like that! The Brooklyn Nets played host to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon and won a good matchup by nine points. Brooklyn still finds themselves atop the Eastern Conference standings, but the road to the end of the regular season is still a hard one so they can’t let up.

The opponent tonight will be the Toronto Raptors ... in Tampa. Nick Nurse’ s guys are far from home and as this season winds down, they’re hoping to sneak their way into the play in game. They helped the cause last night by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers.

A win tonight (or a loss by the Celtics or Hornets) and the Nets become the first Eastern Conference team to qualify for the players.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip after 7:30 p.m.

We’ll be on NetsDaily Clubhouse post-game. Join us. Details here.

Injuries

Oh dear. Bruce Brown is out with knee soreness, James Harden with a hamstring injury, Spencer Dinwiddie with the knee injury, Chris Chiozza with his hand injury, and Alize Johnson + Nicolas Claxton due to COVID protocols. So the Nets will have 11 active players including Mike James now halfway through his 10-day.

Chris Boucher is out with a sprained MCL. Paul Watson and Jalen Harris didn’t play last night and are out tonight. Gary Trent Jr. is day-to-day.

The game

Toronto won the first one in February and the second one last week. Assuming these teams don’t match up in the playoffs, this is the last game of the season between the two teams.

Kyrie Irving keeps on keeping on. The star guard put forth another banner outing on Sunday as he scored 34 points and handed out 12 assists to only three turnovers. With Irving playing at an All-NBA level, the Nets have the potential to stay ahead of the Bucks and Sixers. He wasn’t bad against the Raptors last week, but wasn’t able to bring the Nets all the way back as they tried to mount a comeback. He’ll be more energized this go around as Brooklyn won’t be on the second leg of a back-to-back this time. If it’s close late, look for him to go off and get the Nets to the finish line.

Kyle Lowry didn’t wind up moving cities, and he might wind up pushing the Raptors into the play in games. Toronto is only one game behind the Wizards for tenth place and the play in game. Lowry has struggled with his shot since the All Star break, as he’s shooting 35.8 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from deep. Luckily, he’s still an excellent distributor and great rebounder at the point guard position so he’s helping the Raps even when his scoring isn’t there.

Next man up. It’s been the motto for the team all year and now that Bruce Brown is out, they’ll have to look to replace his effort, defensive intensity, and hustle. Mike James, this is your time to shine!

The Raps made a pretty nice midseason pickup by getting Khem Birch off of waivers from the Orlando Magic. The Canadian big man has started the past six games and has been a net positive for the Raps. He played 24 minutes against the Nets last week and wasn’t all that bad. For Brooklyn, the duo of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin will look to keep Birch off the boards. Griffin started last week’s game as it was his first back-to-back set as a member of the Nets. He only played 19 minutes on night two, so look for him to be out there for his usual 20+ tonight. He

Player to watch: Pascal Siakam

As the Raptors look to chart their future, where they slot Siakam will answer a lot of questions. Is he good enough to be the leading man of the franchise? I don’t believe so. But is he a good player that you’d love to have on the club as you try to compete and contend? Absolutely! He hasn’t taken that next step to be a tier one or two star, but he’s damn good and makes winning plays. He lit the Nets up last week and Brooklyn will look to make things more difficult for him tonight.

What’s more impressive, scoring 33 points off the bench or winning an Academy Award? That’s the question we find ourselves asking after Kevin Durant pulled off the daily double on Sunday and looked like his usual award winning self all the way around. Steve Nash is still working to manage his minutes so KD will be around the late 20s to early 30s in minutes tonight. The amazing thing about Durant is he can be gone for a minute, come back and dominate like he never left. Dude’s a one of one.

The last time Durant saw the Raptors, the league pulled some mess with him so for the Nets’ sake, here’s hoping tonight isn’t as chaotic.

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