Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors Pre-Game Report
Coming off of 10 straight losses, the Brooklyn Nets will look to pick up their ninth win of the season while snapping their embarrassing losing streak.
The Brooklyn Nets, though keeping many games competitive, have struggled tremendously as of late. Losing 10 straight games is bad, but maintaining a mere eight wins compared to 32 losses puts the Nets at the bottom of the pit, literally.
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The Nets rank dead last in not just the Eastern Conference, but in the entire NBA.
Meanwhile the Toronto Raptors head into this contest with their heads held high. The Raptors have won three straight and rank second in the Eastern Conference.
Just four days ago these two teams met, and the Raptors blew out the Nets by a score of 132-113. But with this matchup being played on the Nets’ home court, fans should expect to see a somewhat competitive contest.
Nets’ Keys To Victory
Contain the Raptors’ Star Guards
This one should be quite obvious for head coach Kenny Atkinson. The Raptors are a decently rounded team. Center Jonas Valanciunas aids the team down low while small forward DeMarre Carroll adds a boost with his defensive style of play. But in the end, this team is led by their guards: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Lowry leads the team with 7.2 assists per game while adding 22.2 points per contest. The six-foot guard is surprisingly beneficial under the boards, contributing five rebounds per game. Lowry play-making ability should give the Nets a tough time. But even more importantly, Lowry’s quickness will be sure to wound the Nets, a team that has struggled against opposing point guards all season.
And if Lowry isn’t enough, the Nets will have to account for DeRozan on top of it all, the toughest challenge. The guard is averaging a team-high 28.1 points to tag along with 3.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. His athleticism allows him to score as much as he does. The Nets will need to worry about DeRozan all night, but especially in transition where DeRozan excels.
Get Bojan Bogdanovic Going
For a player who was expected to take a huge leap this season, Bojan Bogdanovic has been a big disappointment. On a team that was never expected to make the playoffs, Bogdanovic was in the perfect situation to fire away and make a name for himself with little competition.
But this has not been the case.
The 27 year old has only managed 14.1 points, 1.6 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game. And although it may be a stretch, much of the Nets’ struggles can be alluded to Bogdanovic’s individual struggles.
In the Nets’ past three wins, Bogdanovic has averaged 22.7 points per game. In the month of January, Bogdanovic has averaged just 12.9 points per game. And after all, the Nets are yet to win a game this month.
Clearly, the Nets need a big game from Bogdanovic if they hope to compete with a cruising Raptors team.
Players To Watch
Nets: Bojan Bogdanovic
Raptors: DeMar DeRozan (averaging 30.5 points per game this month)
- PG: Kyle Lowry
- SG: DeMar DeRozan
- SF: DeMarre Carroll
- PF: Lucas Nogueira
- C: Jonas Valanciunas
- OUT: Jeremy Lin (hamstring)
Brook Lopez vs. Jonas Valanciunas: Rather than one of the Raptors’ star guards versus one of the Nets’ “far from star” guards, it seems as though a battle between the centers will be the more intriguing matchup. Valanciunas is nothing short of excellent under the boards, as he averages 9.9 rebounds per game. On the other hand, Lopez averages just five rebounds per game. This differential can be made up in the scoring category, however, where Lopez averages 7.9 more points per game than Valanciunas. The most excitement from this matchup should come when Lopez is on offense and Valanciunas is on the defensive side of the ball.
The game will be broadcast at 7:30 PM EST on YES. Join the conversation by tweeting @NetsBlogFS.