A possible 14-game winning streak, no Kyle Lowry, no Marc Gasol, and no Norman Powell. The Brooklyn Nets come to town, an ensemble of shot-makers and underrated bigs. Generally only so good as their star of the night, and Kyrie Irving is out once again. Like it has for much of this season, the Nets fate will fall into the hands of Spencer Dinwiddie. Caris Levert is averaging 26 a game in the past two that Irving has missed, so perhaps we’ll see a duality in the Nets offense. An offense that has been largely homogenous this season, whether it was Irving or Dinwiddie, they dominated on ball.
The Nets put up a lot of threes, and might invite the idea of the Raptors vacating certain defensive lanes to pressure Dinwiddie, and in turn allowing him use his length to pass over the top and create open looks. It also happens to be the case that the Nets floor spacers do their best shooting from the corners, with Joe Harris and Taurean Waller-Prince. And it’s no secret by now that the Raptors allow an unprecedented amount of threes from the corners.
Of course, this has been the question before most games this season: how will team x respond to the Raptors defense? They play an extremely unique brand of ‘D’, and it’s really hard to tell how a team is going to attack it. Sometimes a team doesn’t really understand it until they’re out on the floor and responding to the ever-changing stimuli that is the Raptors defense. The amorphous blob of compete, hustle, and moxie.
Last time out, the Raptors deployed VanVleet and Lowry ruthlessly. They were both featured heavily as scorers (Lowry in the first half, VanVleet in the second) as they ran circles around a Nets defense that was loathe to track them off-ball. In the first matchup of the season, Siakam terrorized the Nets. He missed the second matchup, and his return should worry the team from Brooklyn, as they’re without a player who would profile as a typical “Siakam stopper”. On the other side of things, the Nets did what they did back then, which was rely heavily on Dinwiddie. Which seems like the blueprint the Raptors can expect tonight. And one that they should be fairly comfortable trying to keep under wraps.
This should be an interesting game from Siakam, in that he might want to help out on the defensive glass a little more in this one. But, it’s always interesting to see how he melds together his work on the defensive glass, and his gamebreaking transition play. The Raptors are reliant on their transition scoring to a degree that other teams aren’t – especially without Lowry – but they also can’t afford to give up a heap of extra possessions. Two of their best rebounders are out (Lowry to corral long rebounds, Gasol to box-out and make everyone’s job easier) and Siakam will have to pay close attention to that dynamic of tonights game.
Altogether though, the Raptors should be able to extend this win streak to 14 games. Even though it’s a back to back for the Raptors and the Nets are on two days rest; they’ve shown an uncanny ability to lockdown below .500 teams, and these Nets fall into that group.
Tipoff: 740 pm EST | TV: TSN | Radio: TSN1050
Kyle Lowry (whiplash), Norman Powell (finger fracture), and Marc Gasol (hamstring tightness) are all out.
PG: Fred VanVleet, Terence Davis II
SG: Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas
SF: OG Anunoby, Stanley Johnson, Malcolm Miller, Paul Watson
PF: Pascal Siakam, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Oshae Brissett
C: Serge Ibaka, Chris Boucher
Kyrie Irving (right knee), Kevin Durant (achilles) are out. Nicolas Claxton (left shoulder) is probable.
PG: Spencer Dinwiddie, Chris Chiozza, Jeremiah Martin
SG: Caris Levert, Garrett Temple, Theo Pinson,
SF: Joe Harris, Wilson Chandler, Dzanan Musa, Timothe Luwawu
PF: Taurean Prince, Rodions Kurucs
C: Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan
Have a blessed day.