Where to Watch: TSN 2, 7:30 p.m. EST
Don’t look now, but the Brooklyn Nets are winning games. The Nets are arguably the most confounding team in the NBA - a gut of contracts with talent that only sporadically shows its potential. The talent’s showing these days, with a five-game winning streak and a record of 8-2 in their last ten. This is good enough for seventh place in the East (no, really!) and that means it’s the perfect time for the Toronto Raptors to play party poopers.
The Raptors got a pleasant blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and continue to be locked with Chicago in the third seed. A tiebreaker gives them the spot, but they’ll need to win as many games as possible down the stretch to hold off the Bulls and avoid the Washington Wizards in the first round. They’ll get six of those seven remaining games against teams in the hunt for an Eastern playoff spot.
The Nets won’t be pushovers, especially with a newfound paint presence. Trade deadline acquisition Thaddeus Young has been human fuel for Brook Lopez, who was just given Eastern Conference Player of the Week honours after a stretch where he posted 28.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Young, with his ability to stretch the floor, gives Lopez room to operate down low. He’s responded well and Jonas Valanciunas will have his hands full stopping the big man one-on-one inside tonight.
Where the Raptors can really be successful is off the bench. James Johnson and Lou Williams have been fantastic in the last three wins, while Brooklyn’s bench ranks just 20th in the league. Protect yourself from another Jarrett Jack / Alan Anderson explosion and Toronto should be just fine against these guys.
So, what’re you looking for in this one?