Game Preview: Raptors at Nets
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
Toronto Raptors (27-10) @ Brooklyn Nets (15-24)
When: Monday, January 8, 7:30 P.M. ET
Where: Barclays Center
Broadcast info: SN1, TSN1050
The Raptors last saw the Nets in December, picking up a 120-87 blowout win on the Air Canada Centre floor. DeMar DeRozan had 31 points for Toronto, while Kyle Lowry picked up his 11th career triple-double — and ninth as a member of the Raptors — with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists. The Raptors got off to a solid start in the game, leading by 10 after one and 14 at the half. They blew things open in the third, outscoring the Nets 33-20 in the quarter, to go into the forth ahead 91-64. The Nets were led by Nik Stauskas, who scored 22 points in his first game with Brooklyn, including a flurry of three-pointers in the second quarter, and Isaiah Whitehead who had 13 points.
LEADING INTO TONIGHT'S GAME
Injury report: Toronto's injury report is clear. For Brooklyn, Caris LeVert (left groin strain) is probable, and DeMarre Carroll (right knee) is out.
Valiant Valanciunas: Jonas Valanciunas was fantastic in Toronto's 129-110 road win against the Bucks on Friday. He finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds, an assist and a blocked shot on 8-for-9 shooting in just 17 minutes of action. He also outscored (20-19) and outrebounded (9-3) the entire Bucks team in the third quarter. Via the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time since 2013 that a player has outscored and outrebounded an opponent in a quarter.
Nine straight: The Raptors enter Monday's game having won their previous nine contests against the Nets. This is Brooklyn's longest active losing streak against any opponent. The Nets have also lost four straight on their home floor against Toronto.
Brooklyn defence: The Nets have stepped up their defence in the new year, holding four of their last five opponents below 100 points. Brooklyn's last game was a 87-85 loss to the Boston Celtics and their last four games have all been decided by three points or less.
Offensive overflow: The Raptors offence has been clicking. As shown in Toronto's most recent 129-110 victory against the Bucks, the team is enjoying solid chemistry and connection on the floor. Friday's game had seven Raptors players reach double figures, with the starters and reserve lineups taking turns taking over. After a solid start on the road, Toronto held a slim 61-59 lead at the half. Things turned in the third, when the Raptors exploded for a 43-point effort while also turning up their defensive effort, holding the Bucks to 19 in the quarter.
Finishing the trip: Monday's game will be the last in a three-game road trip for Toronto. After finishing up in Brooklyn, the Raptors will fly home to prepare for a back-to-back when they face the Miami Heat on Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto has won a franchise-record tying 12 straight games on the ACC floor, and is an NBA-best 14-1 at home this season.