The Marc Gasol Toronto Raptors era officially began this past Saturday night on the road, and the team now begins a six game homestand. The Raptors are coming off a 104-99 victory over the Knicks in Gasol’s first game, and ride a four-game win streak.
Coming to Toronto are the Brooklyn Nets, who are posting an above average 29-28 record behind the guard play of D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie. Russell in two games versus the Raptors this season has scored a total of 53 points. Dwinwiddie will be a question mark to play against the Raptors, as he is coming off surgery to his finger.
For the Raptors, they now trail the Milwaukee Bucks by a game (and have played two more games) following the Bucks losing to Orlando a couple days ago. So, the chances of a first place seed for the Raptors is still there as they continue to fight for the best in the Eastern Conference.
The Raptors and Nets have met twice this season, splitting the results. In December, the Nets pulled out a one-point victory in overtime; the January contest went in favour of the Raptors, 122-105. The Raptors will be looking for more of latter tonight against a Nets team that is on the brink of playoffs.
Over the last couple of days the Raptors have begun completing their roster, which was down to 10 after the trade deadline. Following the acquisition of Gasol, the Raptors agreed to multiyear deals with Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller, and have reportedly signed Ben McLemore to a 10-day contract. The Nets’ only deadline move was to acquire Greg Monroe from Toronto, but he has already been waived and so won’t be making a return trip to Scotia bank Arena just yet.
Here are the details for the game.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet One (SN1) at 7:30pm EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
Brooklyn – D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, Treveon Graham, Rodions Kurucs, Jarrett Allen
Toronto – none
Brooklyn – Spencer Dinwiddie (finger – OUT), DeMarre Carroll (knee – QUESTIONABLE), Jared Dudley (hamstring – OUT)
Get Gasol Involved
The last time I wrote a game preview article for RaptorsHQ, Toronto was getting set to play Memphis and I wrote about how they needed to stop Gasol. Now, with Gasol on Toronto following the trade deadline, the Raptors need to involve the Spaniard to really enhance what his role will be for the Raptors
Gasol came off the bench in his first game as a Raptor, scoring seven points and grabbing six boards in 19 minutes. The centre got some minutes with the Raptors starters, but his period of growth with the new team is going to be a late season process for the Raptors. Only two games remain until the All-Star break so the Raptors have the opportunity to involve their new asset and try to avoid any kinks during their post all-star schedule.
Russell versus Toronto
Dinwiddie will probably be out for the Nets, but Russell has had the Raptors number. In the January contest Russell shot 10-of-19 for his game-high 24 points, and back in December his 29 points involved 13-of-22 shooting; at 25.8 points per game against Toronto, Russell is in fact the Nets’ all-time franchise leader in that category. Russell will be the one taking most of the Nets shot attempts so Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and whoever else gets the Russell assignment will need to slow him down. Russell has been getting better as the season goes along averaging 25.3 points per game.
Rounding out the Roster
As mentioned above, Boucher has received a multiyear deal with the Raptors, as did Miller and a 10-day contract has reportedly been given to McLemore. The Raptors continue to fill out their roster over the next week and a half, but Boucher and Miller are already familiar with the organization. The Raptors made deadline moves to lower their luxury tax bill for the season, so these are the kind of moves that can be expected by them. Should the McLemore signing become official, the Raptors will need to fill out one more spot at least (they can choose to leave the 15th spot open), and can sign an additional player (or McLemore) after the expiration of that 10-day contract.