Pregame Open Thread: New Jersey Nets at Toronto Raptors

Well the losing streak is over. It wasn’t pretty last night as the Nets blew a huge first half lead, but they were able to outlast the Wizards and break their eight-game losing streak. It was mostly the Devin Harris show last night (with a sprinkle of Kris Humphries) and while the Nets point guard didn’t shoot a very good percentage from the field (in fact he was awful at 7-25), he got to the line 17 times. Now the key is trying to back up last night’s win with one tonight in Toronto, and avoid going on another losing streak.

Some things to keep an eye on:

The Revolving Starting Lineup: The Nets have struggled with finding a consistent starting five over the last 10 games, mostly because of inconsistency and injuries. Last night Avery Johnson went small with Harris, Farmar, Quinton Ross, Hump and Brook, and at least early on it worked out well. Say what you want about Ross but his production has dwarfed Travis Outlaw in the past few weeks. Look for the same lineup to start tonight’s game north of the border.

The Free Throw Line: The clear key to last night’s game was the Nets getting to the free throw line 47 times. Without that they certainly might not have won. Good teams get free points at the line and especially considering the Nets offensive struggles throughout this season, it will be critical for them to keep getting easy points. I don’t expect them to match last night’s total, but 30-35 attempts is something they should aim for tonight.

Frontline Play: While Brook Lopez had a very strange game last night (only 26 minutes and was told to sit back down on the bench by Avery Johnson when he went back in), Kris Humphries was tremendous with 12 points and 17 rebounds. There is no doubt that Hump has given this team a lift and whatever the reason may be for his strong production, hopefully it will continue. But just because he gets 17 boards doesn’t mean that Brook should only have 5. The Nets front court play has been very erratic this season, and it would be encouraging to see them back up last night’s performance.

Before this season I thought Toronto would be the worst team in the East. They have far exceeded my expectations at 9-17 and have played pretty well at times. That being said, I expect the Nets to play well and be in position to win the game tonight. We’ll see if that happens…