The Toronto Raptors are in Brooklyn tomorrow to face the Nets, and will be playing at Breanna Stewart’s Barclay’s Center. There are obvious implications to this game — including the Raptors attempting to get back to .500 after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Sure, this is also an In-Season Tournament game, but the Raptors are mathematically eliminated from that, so it doesn’t matter right? WRONG.
See, the beauty of this game lays in the fact that the Raptors could ELIMINATE the Boston Celtics from the NBA Cup with a win against Brooklyn tonight. What’s better than a win against Brooklyn? A win that eliminates the Boston Celtics from something, anything.
According to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet, a Toronto Raptors win against Brooklyn would make it mathematically impossible for the Boston Celtics to top their In-Season Tournament group, and would therefore have to rely on securing one of only two wild card spots for the quarterfinal games. Toronto may have lost against Boston in their NBA Cup game, but could still knock them out tonight. It’s magical.
Speaking of Magic, it seems it may be the Orlando Magic who could rise above to come out the Raptors’ NBA Cup group. The hot hot hot Magic not only beat Boston, but also beat Denver this week and have been playing exceptionally well.
As for the actual match up on hand, the Nets are in a similar position to the Raptors, at 8-8 on the season.
Here’s the info for tonight’s game:
TV Schedule: 7:30pm on TSN
Toronto: Scottie Barnes, Dennis Schroder, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Jakob Poeltl
Brooklyn: Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Cameron Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Spencer Dinwiddie
Toronto: Gradey Dick (Out - On Assignment with 905), Christian Koloko (Out - respiratory)
Brooklyn: Cameron Johnson (Day-to-day - leg), Nic Claxton (day-to-day - ankle), Dennis Smith Jr (OUT - Back), Cam Thomas (OUT - ankle), Ben Simmons (OUT - back)
Now we all know it’s been a tough run for the Nets. The Kyrie/KD/Harden Saga blew up on them, resulting in all three departing the organization without winning much of anything. In return, the Nets got a haul of picks and rotation players — the biggest of all being Ben Simmons.
Simmons hasn’t really played much over the past few years for many reasons, but is currently rehabbing from a back injury. The latest update is that he has begun light individual work, and will be re-evaluated soon.
So, while Brooklyn’s WNBA franchise, the New York Liberty, made a trip to the finals this season, it doesn’t seem like their Barclay’s roommates will be doing the same this year.
Yet, they sit with a better record than the Raptors currently with an 8-8 (.500) record right now. Mind you those wins have come against Charlotte, Miami (twice), Chicago (twice), the LA Clippers (that’s poetic), Washington, and Orlando. Still, the Raptors have struggled against teams like Washington and Orlando this season, so you never know.
Based on Sunday’s loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers, there are a few things the Raptors could to better at in this game. The first thing is MAKING FREE THROWS — the Raptors shot 69% (20-29) from the free throw line in a three-point loss against the Cavs — unacceptable.
Another thing needed from Toronto is more three point shooting — the team shot a collective 25% (8-32) from three on Sunday. Now, sending Gradey Dick on assignment to the Raptors 905 is a way they are trying to kickstart that deficit, but Gradey won’t be with the team in Brooklyn. Shooters like Anunoby, Schroder, and Trent Jr will need to improve if the Raptors have any hopes of strengthening their offence.
If beating a .500 team wasn’t motivation enough, the Raptors will have the added motivation of kicking the Celtics out of NBA Cup contention to help boost them to a win in Brooklyn.