Nets-Raptors: Can it get any worse?
The Brooklyn Nets lost their eighth-straight game Thursday night to the New Orleans Pelicans, 104-95, despite playing without Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans finished the game on a 13-1 run and outscored the Nets, 31-16, in the fourth quarter as the Nets scored just one point in the final 3:35. Things don’t get much easier for the Nets as they travel to Toronto to face off against the Raptors, the second-best team in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors downed the Nets in their first meeting, 116-104, behind Kyle Lowry’s 24 points. Despite the loss, it was Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s best game of the season as he dropped 19 points. The Nets will face off against the savvy scorer DeMar DeRozan, who’s averaging 28.2 points per game, fourth-best in the league. DeRozan is one of the few players left in the league who goes against analytics and takes mid-range jumpers instead of three-pointers, but he certainly succeeds. He’s made 43% of his mid-range jumpers this season and is also great at drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.
Lowry, DeRozan’s backcourt mate, is having another All-Star season, posting career-highs in minutes (37.4), field goal percentage (47.5), three-point percentage (44.5), rebounds (4.9), and points (22.9).
Expect the Nets’ young guys — like Caris LeVert and Hollis-Jefferson — to cover the Raptors’ dynamic backcourt.
3 Things to Watch for in Nets-Raptors:
1. Caris LeVert’s Progression
LeVert remains one of the reasons for hope during this lost season for the Nets and fans. The rookie scored a career-high last week against the Cleveland Cavaliers with 19 points. Since then, he has scored in double figures twice out of the past three games — 11 against the Atlanta Hawks and 10 against the Pelicans.
The versatile swingman gives Nets fans a glimpse into the future as he continues to improve each game. He’s shown the capability of guarding LeBron James or handling point guard duties — keep an eye on him.
2. Will the Nets continue to hoist threes-pointers?
The Nets shot 42 three-pointers in Thursday’s loss despite only converting on nine of them. Brooklyn ranks 3rd in three-pointers attempted, 5th in three-pointers made, but just 28th in three-point percentage at 33.4%.
3. Can the Nets feed Brook Lopez more?
Lopez has scored 20 or more in three straight games for the Nets, all losses. The Nets have to figure out how to have a healthy dose of three-pointers and touches inside for Lopez, especially when the threes aren’t falling (see above). In Nets wins this season, the big man in the middle averages 23.5 points per game on nearly 17 shot attempts, and 19 PPG on just 14 shot attempts in losses.
Lopez has had success against the Raptors in past years as he poured in 35 points and 7 blocks in their meeting last March and 30 points and 17 rebounds in April of 2015. In order for a Nets victory, Lopez will have to have dominant numbers like those in the past.