There are reasons to cheer on the Nets, a squad that was owned and run with goonish simplicity until it wasn’t. For the past few seasons, ever since extricating themselves from the dying embers of the old Celtics dynasty (you may remember the 2014 version of this team, for example), Brooklyn has set itself on a path to success. They made shrewd moves, drafted well, and then, when everything aligned, signed two big name free agents. Kudos to them. They are currently 13-11 and in seventh place in the East.
Injuries are the great leveller in the NBA. The Raptors have had to overcome their fair share so far this season, and as a result have been struggling to figure themselves out. It’s how they’ve lost four of their last five games, and it’s how they’ve gone from being good, to surprisingly good, to, well, surprisingly bad. It’s an arc none of us saw coming because there’s really no way to prepare for injuries or what they’ll do to a team — galvanize or tear asunder.
Still, there is time. The Raptors have most of their roster back now, save VanVleet, and are obviously working the pieces back in together. Their season is still extremely young. Meanwhile, the Nets have their solid foundation to rely on, the players that have grown in their new system, a roster just waiting for those finishing All-Star touches. For a random pre-Christmas regular season game, that makes for more than enough narrative — to say nothing of the ongoing history between Toronto and Brooklyn — to provide an interesting contest.
In that spirit, here’s my preview from this morning. Below are the updated game details. Now, let’s watch.
Where to Watch:
TSN 1/4 at 7:30pm EST
Toronto — Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Brooklyn — Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Garrett Temple, Taurean Prince, Jarrett Allen
Toronto — Matt Thomas (out - hand), Stanley Johnson (out - groin), Fred VanVleet (out - knee)
Brooklyn — Kevin Durant (out - achilles), Kyrie Irving (out - shoulder), Caris LeVert (out - thumb), Wilson Chandler (out - suspension), Nicolas Claxton (out - hamstring)