Gameday: Raptors vs Nets – Feb. 3/10

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That was a tough loss to Indiana, but after beating them two nights before, and winning the previous 5, I can live with it. We have to keep things in perspective, the Raptors are a team still trying to find their way, things could be worse … we could lose to the Nets tonight. Tonights game against the Nets (who are 1-23 on the road) couldn’t have come at a better time.

I checked in with Mark Ginocchio from to talk about his team:

What, if anything, can the Raptors expect from the Nets?
The Nets have actually been playing a bit better the past week or so and I really believe they hit rock bottom during their West Coast trip in mid-January. Their defense has been crisper, and they’re starting o get more consistent contributions from guys like Jarvis Hayes and Terrence Williams. They’re still absolutely terrible offensively, and if the Raptors get into any kind of groove offensively, there is no way the Nets can outscore them. But I do expect the Nets to at least be more competitive than they were the first time these two teams matched up in December.

Are there any legs to the Amare trade rumours? Who are untouchable on the Nets?
I think the Nets front office is definitely looking to make a trade because there’s a legitimate concern that the team’s awful record is going to scare away a number of the big free agents this summer. If they could find a way to acquire one of those guys now and sign them to an extension, it could go a long way to helping them secure another FA this summer. Is Amare that guy? The Nets FO seems to be really backing away from those rumors, so I’m going to say no. I don’t think they believe he’s worth a max contract, and I can’t blame them for that. With that said, the only untouchable on this roster is Brook Lopez. Period.

What is Yi’s upside? How good has he been for you guys?
Yi is a mixed bag. Offensively he’s light years ahead of where he was a year ago. He’s more aggressive in taking the ball to the rim, but he’s also shooting from the outside with more confidence. However, he’s still a liability defensively and a poor rebounder for a guy his size. He could evolve into a nice rotation player on a winning team, but I can’t see him ever evolving into the “next Dirk” or anything like that.

Anything else you want add?
Hey, thanks for the opportunity. I’m sure most NBA fans think the Nets are a laughing stock, but with a top four pick guaranteed this summer, and the cap space to sign a FA or two, I think it’s going to be a quick turnaround. There are a lot worse situations to be in in this league.

The Nets are coming off a loss that came down to a last second shot against the Pistons last night; for some reason, Harris opted to sho0t a three from 27ft with 7 seconds to go (we can only hope he plays with the same judgement tonight). Otherwise, he had his best game of the year with 24pts 14ast 5rebs in 39min. The last time we played Jersey, Jack/Banks owned Harris, who had a miserable 8pts on 4-12 shooting to go with 5rebs 4ast.

Banks should get some burn tonight with Jose unlikely (at time of publishing); the last time they played, Marcus dropped 14pts on 6-7 shooting with 6rebs 1ast. He teamed with Jack (6pts 1reb 9ast) to really take it to Harris the whole game.

Brook Lopez came up big against the Pistons too, with 27pts 7rebs 2ast, but don’t expect the same when lined up against Bosh and Bargnani. My guess is that the two will take turns abusing Lopez and Yi. When Humphries (who also had a good night last night with 9pts 12rebs) checks in…we counter with Amir. While the Nets have nice players in the front court, they don’t scare me at all, and wont match Toronto’s production.

With Weems and Belinelli moved to the starting lineup, the Raptors bench wasn’t its normal self last night. I thought it a mistake to have both offensive spark-plugs from the bench start, and it looks like my feelings were validated with Weems posting a donut, and the bench only chipping in 21pts (they did contribute a solid 15rebs 15ast). With DeRozan and Turkoglu potentially out with injury, the most optimal rotation, that doesn’t rape the bench, would be the start Wright at small forward, keeps Weems at shooting guard, and bring Belinelli in the game as the first man off the bench. This maintains scoring off the bench, as well as improving defense on the starting lineup.

Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back, but the Nets are on the road, and have a thinner bench. Even worse, they are missing Del Harris, who is no longer a member of the coaching staff; which has Yi feeling sad. The gamblers have the Raptors as 11 point favourites, and I can’t agree more. I can’t think of a better way to forget a 15 point loss, than with a 15 point win.

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