There is but one looming question heading into tonight’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets: which Toronto Raptors team is going to show up? Will it be the squad that limited Donovan Mitchell to 8 points on 3-12 shooting in a 100-88 win against a Conference rival? Or, will it be the team that got 30-pieced by the C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram-less New Orleans Pelicans?
The individual numbers in the paragraph above aren’t really important. What matters in the answer to the opening question of which Raptors team will show up, is the compete level that Toronto illustrates against the Nets. When they lined up to face the Cavs, the Raps looked hungry, feisty and prideful. Against the Pelicans, Toronto looked lost, listless and disengaged, long until the game was essentially out of reach.
If the team that looks like they give a damn steps onto the court tonight in Brooklyn, they could be buoyed by the 4th quarter spark against the Pelicans and continued individual improvement of Gary Trent Jr.. Trent Jr. has been dialed in since Nick Nurse moved him to the bench. Nurse, trying to keep a positive game-flow while re-integrating the walking-wounded that was the Raptors, has been chuffed with what he’s seen out of Gary over the last two games. Scottie Barnes, on the other hand, has not looked good, and if Toronto has any chance against the surging Nets, Nurse is going to need the version of Barnes that had Kevin Durant – among many other NBA stars – fawning over the young blue-chipper.
With 2.5 games separating the 12th and 4th best records in the East – of which, Toronto sits at 7th – playoff jockeying starts earlier than expected in the young season. Every game counts, and Toronto is going to need to find a way to carry over the game plan that limited Durant to 12 points in their previous matchup, while tweaking it just enough to not allow Kyrie Irving to go off for 29 points on 69% shooting from the field. Nice.
Can it be done? Will Toronto fans get a glimpse of the team that no other team in the NBA wants to come across? Details below on where to tune and find out.
Where to watch:
Sportsnet One, 7:30 PM ET
Toronto Raptors – Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Thaddeus Young
Brooklyn Nets – Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Royce O’Neal, Nic Claxton
Toronto Raptors – Precious Achiuwa (ankle – out), Otto Porter Jr. (toe – out)
Brooklyn Nets – Ben Simmons (calf – out), Yuta Watanabe (hamstring – out), Alondes Williams (groin – out)