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Raptors continue preseason in Montreal vs. Nets: Preview, start time, and more

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After some light work last Friday, the Raptors are out further east in Montreal to take on the visiting Brooklyn Nets.

NBA: Preseason-Melbourne United at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The quest for chemistry, continuity and rhythm continues tonight in Montreal as the Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets at the Bell Centre.

Expect Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard to play once again as they continue to stack their minutes in tandem this preseason versus teams actually dressed in NBA uniforms.

The Nets without guards Allen Crabbe (ankle), Shabazz Napier (hamstring), and forwards Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (abductor strain) and Kenneth Faried (ankle) provide a team full of names with double letters but few double-digit scorers. The Raptors can still expect a pesky Kenny Atkinson-coached team to test themselves against as Brooklyn looks to build winning habits before the wins and losses count.

Look out below for what to know.

Where to Watch

7:00pm on TSN2

Lineups

Raptors – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas

Nets – D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll, Ed Davis, Jarrett Allen

Injuries

Raptors – None

Nets - Allen Crabbe (ankle), Shabazz Napier (hamstring), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (abductor strain) Kenneth Faried (ankle), Alan Williams (ankle), Mitch Creek (abductor strain), are they tanking already?

Build an Identity — Fast

In a seemingly wide-open Eastern Conference, the Raptors are in a race with the other teams of the presumed top four in Boston, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee to cement roles, minutes, and playing styles as all aforementioned teams finalize their rotations as the season nears.

Philly has to figure out the Markelle Fultz equation, as his blossoming confidence will demand more minutes from established role players. Milwaukee is letting their big gun run wild this season as Giannis Antetokounmpo has an apparent jump-shot now, but the Bucks will be the Bucks unless the rest of their team develops any sort of reliable second or third option. Boston has to decide to willingly stunt the growth of soon-to-be Celtic I don’t want to admit I like, Jayson Tatum or allow Gordon Hayward to work himself back into 2016 form.

And finally, speaking of 2016 form, Leonard Watch continues, as he grows more comfortable with the team and organization — and most importantly — his role alongside Lowry as they establish their offensive schemes.

OG Back?

While Norman Powell has shown flashes of his post-season self lately, OG Anunoby will scoop up a lot of his minutes as he is inserted back into the fold tonight. There’s been no official word on whether Anunoby is back with the Raptors, but it stands to reason he’s travelled with the team and will return to the court tonight. Meanwhile, Nets coach Atkinson has a limited lineup to use tonight due to mounting injuries to his forwards so expect a guard-heavy rotation for the Raptors’ length to contend with.

While I’d personally like to see OG and Leonard shut down the Nets, this would be the perfect opportunity for Powell to grab more meaningful minutes. The fourth year swingman sat out practice with a right thigh contusion, but here’s hoping the Raptors find time for Norm and OG soon.

Can We Skip a Week?

While I love the what-ifs and enjoy the time coaches get to iron out wrinkles in their lineups, looking over the pile of injuries in the Nets locker room makes me wish we could fast-forward to the regular season opener next Wednesday happy, healthy, and ready to take on a LeBron-less Cavaliers.

I think we arguably have the most talented Raptors team to ever start a season and I believe they’re so skilled they can figure out winning habits under live fire.