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Nets and Raptors begin home and home set in Brooklyn

2022 NBA All-Star - MTN DEW 3-Point Contest Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

No moral, just victories. The Brooklyn Nets went into Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks hoping to pull off the upset against their rivals and the reigning NBA champions. Brooklyn showed a lot of heart and put forth their gutsiest effort of the season and escaped with a much needed three point victory.

The opponent tonight will be the Toronto Raptors. Nick Nurse and company are doing their usual thing and find themselves back in playoff contention. They took on the Atlanta Hawks in the ATL on Saturday night and took an ugly 27 point loss. Tonight is the last game of their five game road trip before they head back home to Toronto.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Joe Harris is out. Ben Simmons is dealing with a back injury in his ramp up, so he’s out. No Kyrie Irving tonight since the current vaccine mandates are in place, and Lord knows what is gonna happen from here. Kevin Durant is close but not yet.

OG Anunoby is out with a fracture in his right ring finger and is due to see a hand specialist in New York City on Monday. Fred Van Vleet has been dealing with some right knee soreness, but is listed as questionable.

The game

Brooklyn won the first game in November and the second one in December. These teams will wrap up the season series tomorrow night in Toronto.

We get to see one of our old friends tonight! Thad Young was traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Raps at the deadline and he’s getting acclimated to his new team. Over at Raptors HQ, Conor McCreery wrote about Thad and said:

That’s why the fact that Young, a very good passer for a wing/big, fits so nicely. Unless the double-team is SHARP he can start kicking the ball around to find an open shooter, or someone deep in the paint. If Young gets the pass out of the double-team he has the size and wiggle to attack the paint, either for himself or to further collapse the defense.

Sounds like the Brooklyn days. And here’s a fun fact: Kyrie Irving, who won’t play Monday or Tuesday is now 44 points behind Young on the all-time scoring list. Young is 191, Irving 192.

Showing out on national TV games is always dope, and Andre Drummond had his best game of the season on ABC. Drummond had 17 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and a huge block on Giannis Antetokuonmpo late to preserve the BK lead. The Nets have needed a big that can handle business on the inside, and Drummond owning the boards and giving the Nets everything he has will be massive for this team. Curiously, LaMarcus Aldridge was the only other big to see the court on Saturday night, and with the team embarking on a back-to-back, that would probably change.

Having Goran Dragic here will help Patty Mills a great deal. Mills had another rough night on Saturday, scoring one point in 16 minutes and missing open three pointers. He’s scored two points in the past two games and it looks like he’s hit a wall. He’s already played the third most total minutes of his career, and we still have two more months of regular season basketball to go. For the Nets, Dragic getting into optimal condition along with the continued growth of Cam Thomas will help Mills a great deal.

The Raps lost by 27 points to the Hawks, yet Pascal Siakam still led the team in minutes with 36:43. He’s second in minutes per game and has to do more now that Anunoby is out. He finishes well at the basket and has worked to better his game over the years. The Raptors have a bright future ahead of them, and he is a big part of it.

Player to watch: Fred VanVleet

FVV got named to his first ever All Star Game, and it was a well deserved honor. On the year, he’s averaging 21 points and seven assists on a .415/.398/.876 shooting split. He’s carried a heavy workload for the team and leads the NBA in minutes, averaging 38 a night. He’s gotta initiate the offense, be their leading scorer, and the go-to option late in close games.

No Irving so Seth Curry will run the show tonight. Curry was magnificent against the Bucks as he scored 19 points and knocked down four three pointers in 29 minutes. When the Nets are respectable to good from three point range, their offense goes from solid to excellent. Curry has been terrific since he came over from the 76ers and he’s helped to keep things afloat as Mills tries to fight out of his slump.

From the Vault

VC having one of the greatest playoff games ever? I can get jiggy with that

More reading: Raptors HQ