The Brooklyn Nets have had a hard season, but things are finally starting to look up for New York's second favourite team. That is, the team has decided to give up and plunge deep into a rebuild to replace its aging roster with one that can win in the future. They are only in the first step of this process, and without draft picks in the near future, it won't be an easy road back, but at least the Nets have finally committed to the inevitable.
With Joe Johnson gone due to a buyout, Brook Lopez is the only real star left in the borough, and even he has seen much better days. Lopez has lost much of his former mobility and defensive skill after foot injuries, but he is still a big body presence with a solid offensive game. Lopez is averaging 20.5 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. But, his scoring has not been enough to save the Nets from having the league's 27th best offensive rating.
On defence, the Nets are no better, coughing up 104.3 points per game en route to the NBA's 28th defensive rating. There really hasn't been much to cheer about this season, and it looks as though the players, fans and management are just trying to close out the campaign in a respectable manner and prepare for this summer's free agency period.
All things considered, this seems like the perfect game for a Raptors rebound. After watching the Rockets storm back in the fourth quarter on the back of James Harden's 40-point performance, the Raptors are looking for a momentum builder. The Raps are still 4.5 games ahead of the Boston Celtics, but that lead won't last if they keep playing defence like they did against the Rockets in the fourth quarter.
For the Raptors, this game is all about establishing a solid rhythm on both sides of the court. On the defensive end, the guards let the team down in their last game, failing to press as hard as they should've known they needed to against Rockets' three-point shooters. If they play gritty, aggressive defence, they will be able to make the unpolished Nets sweat and earn their fair share of steals. The Raptors are fifth in opponent points per game, indicative of a commitment to that side of the floor they need to find once again.
Offensively, it's all about Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan - two stars playing their best basketball ever. They should be able to have their way against the likes of Markel Brown, Shane Larkin and Sean Kilpatrick. This game could also be a great opportunity to get guys who haven't played much like Delon Wright and Jason Thompson involved, so that they can be counted on more moving forward towards the playoffs.
Basically, this is a game to get the jitters of a late loss out of the team's system and move on.
Enjoy your Primo spaghetti.
Where to Watch: Sportsnet at 7:30 p.m. EST.