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Raptors return home to take on the Brooklyn Nets: Preview, start time, and more

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Don’t boo DeMarre Carroll, don’t boo DeMarre Carroll and don’t boo DeMarre Carroll as the Raptors look to bounce back in a game against the Nets.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday’s road loss to the Cavaliers still seems to be all anyone is talking about in Raptorland. While long-term implications of that game are being endlessly debated elsewhere let us cast our attention to the Raptors’ (much more mundane) short term future. As much as we all long for the playoffs to start, the season goes on, and tonight the Raptors play the Nets.

The Raptors played the Nets less than two weeks ago. The most memorable moments from that game took place in the first quarter, when D’Angelo Russell tied Brooklyn’s franchise record for most three point shots made in a single quarter by draining seven long-balls. The rest of the game looked like any other Nets vs. Raptors game of the past three years. The Raptors dominated the Nets in the second half, winning their eleventh straight game against them. They’ll look to make it twelve tonight.

Here are details for tonight’s game:

Where to Watch

SN1, 7:30 PM EST

Lineups:

Toronto – Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, OG Anunoby, Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas

Brooklyn – D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jarrett Allen

Injuries:

Toronto – C.J. Miles (Questionable?)

Brooklyn – Dante Cunningham (Concussion), Jeremy Lin (Knee)

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Sr. Swag Daddy’s Long Awaited Return

Ex-Raptor DeMarre Carroll was supposed to make his return to the ACC way back in December. He missed the game, was promptly accused of the ducking the Raptors by roughly half the Raptors fanbase, and then missed the next Nets/Raptors tilt as well. I’m sure Raptors fans felt upset largely because they were deprived of the opportunity to boo Carroll, who underperformed in his time with the Raptors and was critical of the team on his way out.

It feels like the Raptors fanbase and organization have, somehow, come a long way since December. When the Raptors were preparing to meet the Nets for the first time this year they were third in the East. They had separated themselves from the middle seeds and yet many believed them to not be on the level of a Cleveland or a Boston. At that point it wasn’t exactly clear that Carroll had dropped a truthbomb, not a stinkbomb, on his way out. The Raptors weren’t good enough for their fans to be above extreme, extreme pettiness.

I’m hoping that we’ve reached a point where we, as a fanbase, are above booing Carroll. He came to the Raptors, got hurt and then was mediocre and overpaid for a year and half before being traded. That doesn’t warrant being booed. Telling the truth about a team’s culture doesn’t warrant being booed. If you’re going to the game tonight then I implore you: Don’t. Freaking. Boo. Him.

Note: The author of this piece is aware that DeMarre Carroll is going to be booed regardless of what he writes

A Shade Above Hopeless

So, what’s going on with the Nets that aren’t Carroll since the Raptors last played them? Well, they’re 2-2 which sounds okay, but their only two wins came against the tanking Mavs and Grizzlies. That generally summarizes where the Nets are as a team right now, they’re a very small step above the league’s worst but, being without a real lottery draft pick, they’re likely to stay terrible for at least one more year.

There is still some hope for the Nets however, who have been shrewdly run ever since Sean Marks was given control of the team. Over the past few games the best players on the Nets have been Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Both are young wings who are adept at getting into the teeth of the defence with their herky-jerky handles. Hollis-Jefferson and LeVert are averaging 18 and 16 points respectively since the Raptors last played the Nets and both have spent time running the point in that stretch, with LeVert operating almost exclusively as a point-forward.

Take Care of Business (Again)

Fun though LeVert and RHJ may be, the Brooklyn Nets are still the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors have won eleven consecutive games against these perpetual bottom dwellers for a reason, they’re just kinda terrible. This years Raptors have carved out a path to a potential 60 win season by cleaning up in games like this. They are a league-best 32-2 (THIRTY-TWO AND TWO!) against below-.500 opponents. Even mired in a taxing stretch of schedule — this will be their sixth game in eight days — the Raps should have enough depth to put this game away without much stress.