The Brooklyn Nets’ (3-10) schedule keeps on rolling along despite all of their problems, and tonight they stop in Canada to visit the first place Toronto Raptors (6-7). That’s right the Raptors are leading the division and are still under .500. Such is life in the eastern conference. The Nets only have 1 road win on the season and that was a buzzer beater in overtime in Phoenix. That was also the team’s last win, and that was over 2 weeks ago. The Raptors are coming off back-to-back wins against Philadelphia and Washington. They haven’t played since Friday so they should be well-rested.
If the Nets ever hope to get back into the division race, this would be the game to turn things around. It appears that the Raptors have the best chance of winning this horrible division, so a win would go a long way here. Unbelievably, if the Nets can somehow win this game they will only be 2 games out of first place in the division.
Injuries: Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Andrei Kirilenko, and Jason Terry are all still out for the Nets, but all are listed as day-to-day and there is a chance that they could play tomorrow against the Lakers. The Raptors’ only injury is Quincy Acy.
Shaun Livingston vs. Kyle Lowry. Advantage: Lowry
Lowry hasn’t been great this year and is only averaging 12 points and 7 assists per game, but I like him over Livingston, who has a head injury and is only listed as probable for the game and also because Livingston has been playing too many minutes recently. His body can’t handle this many minutes. If the Nets are getting blown out in the second half, Livingston needs to be rested.
Joe Johnson vs. Demar DeRozan. Advantage: Johnson
DeRozan is averaging a career high in points, but is also averaging a career low in field goal %, so it appears that Rudy Gay is rubbing off on him. He is among the NBA’s leaders in minutes per game. He still hasn’t really developed much of a passing game. Joe Johnson is far and away the Nets’ best player right now. Their only chance of winning this game is riding Johnson all the way.
Paul Pierce vs. Rudy Gay. Advantage: Gay
Gay is very similar to DeRozan, averaging around 20 ppg while shooting around 40%. If the game is close (I don’t think it will be), Gay loves taking last second shots so the Nets will need to defend him well. Pierce scored 19 points on Sunday against Detroit, but still didn’t look very good.
Kevin Garnett vs. Amir Johnson. Advantage: Johnson
Amir Johnson has never been a great player, but at least he brings a lot of energy, something that Kevin Garnett does not bring. Garnett scored a total of 0 points in the final 46 minutes of Sunday’s game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Johnson get a double-double.
Andray Blatche vs. Jonas Valanciunas. Advantage: Valanciunas
Valanciunas has definitely been a disappointment so far this season, averaging the same 9 ppg that he had last year. He was on my radar as possible most improved players coming into the season but hasn’t lived up to that. Still, against the Nets’ horrible defensive front court, this could be a breakout game for Valanciunas. Blatche will likely start in place of Brook Lopez.
Bold prediction: Jonas Valanciunas has a 20-10 game. I don’t see anybody on the Nets’ roster who can stop him.
Score prediction: Toronto 114, Nets 91. This will probably have the same kind of feel as Nets-Timberwolves from last week. It will not be pretty.