Everyone is up in arms about the defensive drop-off of the Toronto Raptors over the last month or so. After spending the better part of the first three months of the season as a top-10 defense, the Raptors have been horrible on that end since February 1st, coming in 26th in Defensive Rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) over that 14-game span.
There is simply no better cure for defensive concerns than to play one of the league's worst offenses at home. The Brooklyn Nets -- who come to the ACC tonight having lost both of their previous matchups with the Raptors this season by a combined 29 points -- have the league's 27th-ranked offense with an Offensive Rating of 100.4 (points scored per 100 possessions). In their two games against the Raptors this season, that number has dipped to 93.2.
And in those two games, the Nets still had Joe Johnson and a healthy frontcourt of Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.
Johnson has since been bought out by the team and moved on to the Miami Heat, while Lopez and Young were rested for the Nets' last game against the Timberwolves; one in which they trotted out a starting lineup of Donald Sloan, Wayne Ellington, Bojan Bogdanovic, Willie Reed, and Thomas Robinson.
Yes, the Raptors should win this game and they should win it handily (even with Lopez and Young returning tonight).
numberFire.com projects Toronto's win probability at 86% going into this one and Vegas has them favoured by 12.0 points. This is just the game the Raptors need to feel good about their defense and hopefully get their star players some much needed late-season rest if it turns into a blowout for the home team down the stretch.
With about a half an hour to go before tip, here are some links to get you prepared for tonight's action:
- Check out our preview of tonight's game.
- For some deep and stats-y information on the team's aforementioned defensive woes of late, check out our very own Daniel Hackett's Quick Stat Hit for this week.
- Our pal Eric Koreen made his Sportsnet.ca debut today with a piece about Luis Scola and that deserves your clicks.
- Listen to the latest edition of our Raptors HQ podcast, The Headquarters, by clicking here or heading on over to iTunes.
Late-breaking update about the Raptors starters:
Now, let the conversation begin!