BY SAM LACHOW
The Brooklyn Nets host the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors, hoping to even up the season series at two games apiece.
|7-3||Last 10 Games||8-2|
|103.0||Points scored per 100 possessions||105.0|
|103.9||Points allowed per 100 possessions||101.0|
|94.1||Possessions per game||94.5|
|45.1%||Field goal percentage||44.2%|
|Joe Johnson (15.2)||Top Scorer||DeMar DeRozan (22.8)|
Projected starting lineup: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas.
Dwane Casey’s Toronto squad just keeps on rolling: they’re on a three-game winning streak and 8-2 in their last 10 games. Many thought the team was lottery-bound after trading Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, but the opposite has occurred. DeMar DeRozan is one of the NBA’s best scorers, averaging 22.8 points per game, and Kyle Lowrty continues his All-Star-esque performance, averaging 16.8 points, 7.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game.
It’s not just scoring: the Raptors rank 6th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing just 101 points per 100 possessions.
Tonight’s game has potential playoff implications, but they’re a longshot. The Raptors hold a 2-1 edge in the season series over Brooklyn, so if the Nets win, they’ll tie up the season series. If the Nets and Raptors end the season with identical records, the next tiebreaker is each team’s win-loss percentage in the Eastern Conference, which the Raptors would still lead the Nets in by four games.
So this game’s more interesting in the sense that there’s a potential playoff matchup between these two teams — the Nets and Raptors are just four games apart, and would face off as the 3-6 matchup if the season ended today.
Kyle Lowry has torched the Nets in the 3 games when these teams have met, with averages of 22.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3 in those games. On January 27th, he posted 31 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals in an inspiring comeback win.
This game is a tough one: it’s a back-to-back and the Nets are banged up. Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko both suffered injuries last night, and the Nets need as much scoring and defensive help as they can get against the athletic, division-leading Raptors.