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Nets and Raptors wrap up home and home set in Toronto

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes. Last night, the Brooklyn Nets took on the Toronto Raptors at Barclays and got the hell whooped out of them as the Raps beat them by 36 points. After this, they go back home for a night before heading back on the road for a week.

We’re staying with the Raps so read about last night’s game from our friends at Raptors HQ. The Raptors have been traveling all over the place and get a few days to be at home.

Where to follow the game

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

Injuries

Kevin Durant won’t make his return tonight. Joe Harris is out. If you think New York’s COVID mandates are strict, Canada’s make it seem like a walk in the park. As such, Kyrie Irving is not allowed into the country and thus not playing. Steve Nash is in health and safety protocols. Andre Drummond suffered what initially looked like a serious knee injury Monday night, but he was able to continue on and play. We’ll see if he’s good to go tonight.

OG Anunoby is out. Fred Van Vleet sat out last night’s game with right knee soreness. We’ll see if he returns tonight.

The game

Brooklyn took game one in November, game two in December, and the Raptors took game three last night. This is the last regular season meeting between the two teams this year

In an unfortunate twist, this is the fourth game in five nights for Nick Nurse and the Raptors. In those games, they’ve traveled from Charlotte, to Atlanta, to Brooklyn, and now they’re back in Toronto. Granted they’re just back from the All Star break, but still. That’s a heavy workload for these guys.

The Raptors are the best team in the league at forcing turnovers, and that was in full effect on Monday night. The Nets coughed it up 22 times and Toronto took full advantage by scoring 31 points off of turnovers and 32 fastbreak points. You have to take care of the ball and when you’re sloppy and unfocused as the Nets were last night, you’re going to pay for it.

It’s incredibly surprising that Nic Claxton has been relegated to garbage time big. Since he’s been back, Clax has only played in garbage time since returning from his hamstring injury and when you consider the last time he got a full game in (against the Sacramento Kings in early February), he played excellently. The Nets defense sprung a million leaks last night, and theoretically, Claxton would help address those issues. Assuming Drummond is out or limited tonight, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge will try to pick up the slack.

Speaking of Brooklyn’s defense, their levels of communication were the worst we’ve seen all season last night as the Raptors got open 3-pointer after open three pointer. It looked as if the players had just met for the first time with how often they didn’t make the proper rotations, helped unnecessarily, etc. The players found out Nash was in protocols just prior to tip off, so that might explain some of their woes. That said, they need to be better no matter who’s in charge.

Goran Dragic played 16 minutes last night, and he should be around that mark tonight if he suits up. So far, he’s worked to orchestrate the team’s offense, and we’ll see how he is utilized compared to Patty Mills. Mills made his first three pointer in three games, but he’s still mired in his current slump. We’re starting to see Mills’ minutes take a bit of a dip, and it might be for the best. He leads the team in minutes and he’s had to expand his offensive role to a level that’s a bit beyond his skill set. If the Nets can keep him in the 20s as far as minutes go, they can help him regain his legs and reduce the heavy workload he’s had to carry.

It’s a special night in Toronto as the Raptors will be playing their first home game at full capacity.

Among the starters, Seth Curry should look to get his shot a bit more. With Durant out for a little while longer, Seth can afford to hunt for his a bit more. Off the bench, Cam Thomas will have to take that role. He only went 4-12 last night, but he made some tough midrange jumpers and with Brooklyn needing all the help they can get right now, they can take the reins and make it happen.

Player to watch: Scottie Barnes

Barnes had himself a magical game last night. The rook tied his season high in scoring as he led all players with 28 points. He did snatch a season high 16 rebounds to go along with five steals and four assists. He outhustled the Nets at every turn and knocked them around on the boards as he snatched nine offensive rebounds.

So, James Johnson will get the start at the four again. He’s hoping tonight goes a million times better than it did last night in Brooklyn. He made some really bad turnovers and got into some early foul trouble that limited his effectiveness. Johnson has the current responsibility of initiating the offense and the Nets can’t afford for him to be off his game or making bad mistakes.

From the Vault

Starting the month with another all-time Vince Carter game? Here for it!

More reading: Raptors HQ