Game Preview: Raptors vs. Nets
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
The Brooklyn Nets are in town to take on the Raptors on Tuesday night. This will be Toronto’s last home game on the Air Canada Centre floor before kicking off a six-game road trip that will last until Jan 3. Brooklyn faces a Raptors team that is coming off a 30-point victory in Orlando and has won 11 of its previous 13 games.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast Info: SNET1 / SN590
DeRozan rolling, earning POTW honours
DeMar DeRozan had another 30-point performance in Toronto’s victory against the Orlando Magic. He did this despite not appearing in the fourth quarter. It was his 15th time topping 30 points this season, after accomplishing this feat 14 times a season ago.
The NBA announced on Monday afternoon that DeRozan was selected as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played December 12-18. It is the second time DeRozan has been given this honour this season, and the third time overall in his career. It’s no secret the Raptors guard has been scoring at will, but over the past week, he has averaged 31.5 points per contest while shooting better than 60 percent from the floor. His 28.4 points leads the Eastern Conference in scoring and he's just 74 points away from becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer.
Bouncing back in a big way
After a disappointing fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in a victory and then a disappointing four quarters against the Atlanta Hawks in a loss, Dwane Casey wanted to see a much different approach from his team, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. Prior to Toronto’s 109-79 win in Orlando on Sunday, the team spent the morning in a film session where their defensive mistakes were on displayed for all to see.
“We were winning some games easily so we kind of relaxed,” Jonas Valanciunas said. “That’s what we cannot do. It’s good [that] it’s early in the season…We still have some time. We’ve just got to remind ourselves that every team can play hard and we’ve got to be ready every game, come out and play hard.”
The result of Sunday’s film session was a spirited effort on both ends of the floor against the Magic, including a fourth quarter where reserves got the chance to close out the game. Getting back to a defence-first mentality was important to Casey, but also to the veterans on the team as well.
“It was everything,” DeRozan said. “Coming off a game we feel like we could have won [against Atlanta], we had too many errors defensively that game. You know it cost us a game. We gave up too many points. We’re just trying to get back to who we are and who we’re trying to be for the whole season.”
A boost off the bench
Patrick Patterson has quietly been one of the most important players in Toronto’s rotation for the past few seasons. Despite not serving as a regular starter his impact is immeasurable for the Raptors. Although Casey often fields questions about Patterson sliding into the starting five, he’s more than comfortable with where his star reserve fits into his rotation.
“Things change when he comes into the game,” Casey said. “That’s a huge statement for a substitute to be seventh [in the league in plus-minus.] That says something right there, the impact he has on the game at his position as a guy coming off the bench and maybe sometimes starting the second half.”
When Patterson is on the floor, everything becomes easier for everyone in a Raptors uniform.
“You put Pat out there, he’s got one of the highest IQ’s on the team,” DeMar DeRozan said. “His ability to knock down shots, understanding plays defensively, offensively, he always is two steps ahead with you as well. It’s great. He’s got a feel for every one of us. We’ve been playing together for some years now and you can obviously tell that when Pat goes in. It just brings us together.”