The Toronto Raptors are hosting the Brooklyn Nets at 7:30 p.m. on Sportsnet One, the first game in a seven-game home-stand that will span almost two full weeks.
The Nets being in town means several things. It means a likely victory, as the Nets may be the worst non-Lakers team in the NBA right now. It means potential for either garbage-time run for the deep reserves or further hand-wringing about the Raptors’ inability to put teams away. It also means Andrea Bargnani is in town, although, as has more often been the case since the Raptors traded him in the summer of 2013, Bargnani is injured.
Bargnani is out
Bargnani is dealing with a sore right knee and was listed as questionable for Monday’s game. He won’t play, which doesn’t mean much for the Nets but is disappointing for Raptors fans, who surely would have liked to see him crowned on. At least he’ll look more familiar in street clothes.
The 30-year-old Italian is averaging 6.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13.6 minutes over 36 games for the Nets this season, somehow managing to disappoint even on a veteran’s minimum contract. The deal at the time seemed a reasonable value play, even if the Nets probably should have been thinking younger, as Bargnani wasn’t terrible when he was healthy in 2014-15. In three seasons since leaving Toronto, Il Mago has averaged 11.5 points, four rebounds, and 0.8 blocks while shooting 29.3 percent from outside.
With today marking the 10th anniversary of The Basketball Jones and the final day of #NBAVote, Bargnani’s famous 13-game stretch easily comes to mind. While he averaged 15.2 points and 4.8 rebounds on 53.5-percent true shooting during his seven years with the Raptors, 2010-11 saw him put together five weeks of play during which he averaged 24.9 points and 6.2 rebounds with 57.7-percent true shooting. It led to this beauty:
As a reminder, the Raptors will have an extra first-round pick in this year’s draft, the unlikely and hilarious haul from the Knicks for the former No. 1 pick. Since leaving, he’s played in five games against Toronto, averaging 13.6 points on 53.3-percent true shooting. Last time out (Jan. 6), he scored three points in six minutes in a 91-74 Raptors victory.
Other Nets updates
Jarrett Jack: Out for the season with a torn ACL
Chris McCullough: Out, recovering from a torn ACL
Rondae Hollis-JeffersoN: Out, ankle fracture
Sergey Karasev: Available, ankle
That means the Nets’ rotation will look something like this:
PG: Donald Sloan, Shane Larkin
SG: Wayne Ellington, Karasev, Markel Brown
SF: Joe Johnson, Bojan Bogdanovic
PF: Thad Young, Thomas Robinson
C: Brook Lopez, Willie Reed
The Raptors are without DeMarre Carroll and have elected to keep Bruno Caboclo, Anthony Bennett, and Delon Wright with Raptors 950 for tonight’s game (they play at 8 p.m. in Iowa). Their rotation will look something like this:
PG: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph
SG: DeMar DeRozan, T.J. Ross, Norman Powell
SF: James Johnson
PF: Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Bismack Biyombo, Lucas Nogueira
The last time these sides faced off, Valanciunas turned in perhaps the best two-way game of his career opposite Lopez, and he’s continued building momentum with a few really solid games since. Lopez got his, too, but did his damage mostly with Valanciunas on the bench. Given the Raptors’ edge everywhere else, that will be the key matchup to focus on (other than maybe seeing how Johnson does on Johnson).
In four meetings against Lopez over the last two seasons, Valanciunas has averaged 16.5 points and 10.3 rebounds on 71.1-percent shooting. Lopez has averaged 24.3 points and 11.5 rebounds on 49.4 percent from the floor.
A reminder that voting for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game starting lineups closes at 11:59 p.m. ET. Here’s why you should give Kyle Lowry your #NBAVote.
DeMarre on Kyle and DeMar: "They better be in the All-Star Game or there's gonna be problems by the Junkyard Dog."
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) January 18, 2016
While we’re on Carroll
Caroll had previously indicated he first hurt his knee when he banged it against DeAndre Jordan on Nov. 22. On Monday, he told reporters (courtesy of Michael Grange) that he injured it landing funny in a game against the Pelicans on Nov. 13. That was his first game back from a three-game absence due to plantar fasciitis and would mean he played on the knee for 12 games before hitting the shelf. The context has suggested that Carroll wasn’t the most forthcoming about the injury, so don’t jump down the team’s throat for being reckless. Or do, I don’t care.
Carroll: "I'm moving ahead of schedule. I just want to get back out there & play at a level that I know I can play at, that I should be at"
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) January 18, 2016
There’s no timetable for Carroll’s return, but at the very least, there was no damage to the meniscus, per Daniel Reynolds.
The Raptors are 11.5-point favorites, down slightly from a Raptors -12 open. The over-under has also fallen from 198 to 196.5, which I think is smart given the slow paces of each side and Brooklyn’s inability to score.
Raptors 102, Nets 89