After a successful five-game road trip that started in Cleveland and ended in London, the Toronto Raptors return to the friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre to kick off a seven-game homestand against the Brooklyn Nets.
The heated rivalry between these two teams from two years ago is definitely dead as the Nets have dropped into obscurity in the improved Eastern Conference. Brooklyn fired head coach Lionel Hollins last week and has shaken up its front office. Not much has changed as the team has dropped five of its past six.
Toronto cannot overlook this wounded animal as the first game back from a lengthy road trip against an inferior opponent can serve as a trap game. Here are some storylines to follow:
Lay down the hammer
As alluded to above, the first game back home can make a team feel too comfortable. Toronto has struggled this season playing a home game after a road game, dropping disappointing contests to the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. With all those losses in the rearview mirror, look for Dwane Casey's group to take command early. These teams met on Jan. 6 and the Raptors won handily, 91-74. If they can turn in a repeat performance of that one, they'll move to 2-0 against their Atlantic Division foe.
JV vs. Brook Lopez
Lopez is really the only true threat the Nets have in their lineup as the big man is averaging 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per night. Jonas Valanciunas has a tough task in this one, but in their last matchup, the Lithuanian centre went off for 22 points and 11 boards.
One last chance to #NBAVote
This will be the final game the Raptors play before NBA all-star voting closes at 11:59 p.m. ET. That means it's the last time for all-star hopefuls Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to make an impression on fans. While the latter realistically has no chance of being voted in as a starter, the former has a shot to pass Kyrie Irving for the second and final guard spot. Look for both players to put up strong lines as they make their case to represent the East at the ACC on Feb. 14.
Where to watch: Sportsnet ONE, 7:30 p.m. ET