The Toronto Raptors look for their ninth consecutive win as they visit the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. If there’s any worry of a “trap game” or whatever still after the Raptors have gone 29-2 against sub-.500 teams, the last meeting with Brooklyn should surely serve them a reminder. They won that game in overtime but lost Kyle Lowry and fatigued themselves for a back-to-back the next night, which they lost. This Toronto team is probably past the constant reminders of taking each opponent seriously, but with the finish line in sight, it wouldn’t be unheard of for feet to come off the gas, so that will surely be Dwane Casey’s consistent refrain.
A win would mean something notable for the Raptors, as it would be their 50th of the year. It’s March 13. It would put them four games up in the Eastern Conference, and require them only to go 10-5 down the stretch to finish with 60 wins for the first time, or 7-8 to set a new franchise record for wins. These markers don’t “matter” held up against what the Raptors want to do in the playoffs, of course. They do matter in the bigger picture of turning the organization into one with a reputation as a consistent winner, though, and to that end, the Raptors are having a heck of a season. There’s little reason to think it will slow down here.
The game tips off at 7:30 on TSN 1/4 and TSN 1050. You can check out the full game preview here.
I’m not sure if there’s just a light media presence in New York for the game or nobody tweeted out an update or everything is behind or something, but we’re past the point of Dwane Casey’s usual media availability and don’t know the status of OG Anunoby or his fill-in if he’s out. Anunoby was listed as doubtful and Norman Powell has been starting fairly regularly, and honestly, you’ve probably all read enough of my analysis on that, Malcolm Miller, and so on by now. So we’ll leave it until there’s an actual update. Apologies. In any case, here’s hoping the team gets another look at Nigel Hayes, whether in the rotation or with extended garbage time, as his 10-day expires after Thursday’s game.
Check back before tip-off for confirmation of starters.
UPDATE: Powell is starting. There still hasn’t been official word on Anunoby, so I’m not sure if this is a Wright-on-Sunday situation or if he remains out.
UPDATE II: I’ve confirmed Anunoby is, in fact, out.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright
SG: DeMar DeRozan
SF: Norman Powell, C.J. Miles, Malcolm Miller
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Nigel Hayes
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: OG Anunoby
905: Malachi Richardson, Lorenzo Brown, Alfonzo McKinnie
Brooklyn will be without Jarrett Allen here, which could lead to some pretty interesting lineups. Allen has a sore left foot and, after missing six games with a foot injury earlier in the year, it’s easy to see why the Nets are playing it cautious. What’s not clear, though, is who starts. The “right” move is probably to start small, either with Quincy Acy at center or a wild two-guard, three-forward look that would give them a ton of switchability and speed.
The far more intriguing option, though, would be starting Jahlil Okafor. Okafor has played 291 minutes for the Nets this year and owns a net rating that would make Andrea Bargnani blush. Okafor’s minus-26.6 net rating is the worst in the league for anyone who has played at least 100 minutes. The Nets essentially got him for free – paid to take him, really – and aren’t heavily invested. But Okafor is still young, has some talent in the post, and the Nets might be well-served getting a 25-minute look at him against a high-end center in Jonas Valanciunas. Am I trying to wish this into existence? Maybe. Allen’s minutes will be split all over, anyway, it will just be more interesting if Okafor gets the starting nod.
UPDATE: Sadly, Dante Cunningham is starting in Allen’s place. That’s a great matchup for Valanciunas inside, but probably the right call for Brooklyn overall.
PG: Spencer Dinwiddie, Isaiah Whitehead
SG: D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, Nik Stauskas
SF: Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris
PF: DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Quincy Acy
C: Dante Cunningham, Jahlil Okafor, Timofey Mozgov
OUT: Jarrett Allen, Jeremy Lin
Long Island: Milton Doyle, James Webb III
- Raptors 905 won on Tuesday afternoon and now head out west for a four-game trip that will set up their playoff bracket (their magic number is down to one). Lorenzo Brown, Alfonzo McKinnie, and Malachi Richardson figure to be on the trip, barring an injury at the NBA level between now and departure.
- Over at The Athletic, I wrote about Nigel Hayes’ weird experience drawing a G League assignment while on a 10-day deal and switching sides in a rivalry in the process.
- Over at Vice, Alex Wong spoke to Fred VanVleet about his clothing line.
- More good VanVleet content in the form of a Q&A with James Herbert.
- Sportsnet announced Monday that Friday’s game between the Raptors and Rockets was the highest-rated regular season game in the network’s history.
Sportsnet announces Raptors-Rockets did record numbers for the network. pic.twitter.com/smFaoVDadF
— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) March 12, 2018
- Our man CanBallRay put together a list of all of the Canadians on NCAA postseason rosters. It’s the second year in a row 22 players are set to participate in the men’s NCAA Tournament, per Canada Basketball.
— CanBallRay (@CanBallReport) March 13, 2018
- I thought this cover of Metro this morning was really cool. The outpouring of support for DeMar DeRozan from the fanbase has been really heart-warming. Check out this R/TorontoRaptors page for one way to show your support.
The front page of metro this morning pic.twitter.com/CG8JGZI2Qa
— Raptors Nation (@RaptorsNationTO) March 13, 2018
The Raptors are 9-point favorites, down slightly from Raptors -9.5. The over-under is at 219.