Preview: Nets hope for a quick turnaround when they travel to face Raptors
Brooklyn will want to move past its disappointing defeat to New York in Toronto
Updated: 1:22 p.m. ET
Back-to-back games have a long been a debate in the NBA, but sometimes they do have unintended benefits. It can serve as a way to quickly bounce back after a poor result.
The Nets (11-16) definitely can use that after their loss to the Knicks on Thursday night.
Brooklyn struggled to find a consistent offensive rhythm against its cross-bridge rival in the 111-104 loss, as evidenced by shooting 28.6 percent on 42 attempts from behind the arc. Twenty-four hours later, the team now has a chance to get back on track in Toronto. Still, that’s easier said than done against a Raptors (18-8) side that’s had Brooklyn’s number over the past two years.
Here are the Top Storylines of Friday’s game:
Carroll Rests In Return to Air Canada Centre
Carroll traveled with the team, but he's ruled out of Friday's action against his former team due to being rested. While he never managed to reach the heights from his time with the Hawks that landed him a big contract in Toronto, he remains a popular figure north of the border. As with every stop in his NBA career, the small forward was very active in the community and still has a presence in the city. In fact, he’s actually sending local 30 kids to Friday’s game.
DeMarre Carroll is bringing 30 local youths to Raptors-Nets tomorrow, through his Trust 15 non-profit. A reminder that he was heavily involved in the community here over his two seasons.— Blake Murphy (@BlakeMurphyODC) December 15, 2017
Part of Carroll’s struggles came down to being limited with injury. In his first season, he only played 26 games. Despite starting 72 games the following year, he wasn’t able to find a fit in the Raptors’ plan, having his lowest scoring average (8.9 ppg) since his days in Utah (6.0 ppg). He’s been reinvigorated since his move to Brooklyn, where he’s averaging career highs in points (13.0) and rebounds (7.0). It’s a move that’s benefitted both teams.
The Raptors have been able to get more touches for DeMar DeRozan, thanks to playing one of two younger small forwards in Norman Powell or OG Anunoby. And the Nets have benefitted from Carroll’s veteran leadership and gritty style of play.
Key Matchup: Spencer Dinwiddie vs. Kyle Lowry
Lowry is struggling with his shot in December, but that won’t make Dinwiddie’s task any easier.
The Raptors’ three-time All-Star is shooting just 34 percent from the field, including 31 percent on his three-pointers. However, the Raptors are 5-1 since the start of the month and the point guard has actually picked up his rebounding in that span (averaging 6.0 rpg). He also remains a skilled playmaker with 7.3 assists per game. Part of Lowry’s struggles have come from the Raptors coach Dwane Casey’s decision to pick up the team’s pace and there’s not much debate over the results. Toronto has the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at the moment. The Nets might be able to use that knowledge towards their advantage.
It’s a well-known fact that Brooklyn is the third-fastest team in the league in pace and Dinwiddie is a big part of that. The point guard is the midst of a breakout season and leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.91 to 1). Lowry is an excellent half court point guard, but he isn’t the most fleet-footed playmaker. If Brooklyn keeps the ball moving and forces turnovers, it could go a long way in Toronto.
Can the Nets End Their Woes Against “The 6ix”?
Brooklyn and Toronto actually have an underrated rivalry that spans back to the Nets’ New Jersey days. There’s been playoff clashes and several stars from both sides have played for both franchises. Who can forget the Raptors GM Masai Ujiri’s infamous rally chant during the 2014 playoffs? That ill-advised move actually appeared to spark the best out of Brooklyn in its first round series win.
Lately though, “the 6ix” has dominated recent matchups. The Nets have lost their last eight games against the Raptors. That said, Kenny Atkinson’s team is off to an improved start this season as they’ve won 11 games so far – a mark it didn’t reach until March last year. With Brooklyn playing a better brand of basketball, things could change in this season’s series opener between these two teams.
Projected lineup: Dinwiddie, Crabbe, Hollis-Jefferson, Allen and Zeller
Injuries: Allen Crabbe (left knee soreness) is QUESTIONABLE. DeMarre Carroll (rest) and D'Angelo Russell (left knee surgery) are OUT.
Tune in: 7:30 p.m. ET on YES Network (TV), WCBS 880 (Radio).