Gerald Wallace and DeMar DeRozan
Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets (11-9) will look to snap a season high 5-game losing streak north of the border against the Toronto Raptors (4-18), who are also on a 5-game losing streak. Additionally, Toronto has tons of injuries and one suspension. Hopefully the Nets will take advantage of that tonight. Neither of these teams has won a basketball game since November, but the misery will end for one of them tonight.
The Nets are coming off of a heartbreaking loss to the Manhattan Knicks last night when Jason Kidd hit a dagger 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining in the game. They have also lost to Milwaukee, Golden State, Oklahoma City, and Miami on the losing streak. 4 of the 5 losses have been at home, but they have not had star center Brook Lopez in any of the games.
Toronto is finally coming home after a miserable 5-game west coast trip where they went 0-5, including an embarrassing 92-74 loss against Portland on Monday. In fact, Toronto has lost 11 of its last 12 games. Many of the losses have been close, but the last 3 against Utah, Los Angeles (Clippers), and Portland have been by an average of 23 points.
Injuries: For Brooklyn, Brook Lopez is still out. There is a chance he will play on Friday against Detroit, but he did not even make the trip up to Toronto for this game. Toronto has lots of injury problems. Andrea Bargnani injured himself in the Raptors’ last game in Portland. It is not yet known if he will play tonight, but I doubt it. Kyle Lowry is also questionable for tonight’s game. He got injured in Portland as well. Additionally, Amir Johnson will be suspended for tonight’s game after a bizarre incident in the Portland game where Johnson took out his mouth guard and threw it at a referee after getting ejected. Alan Anderson, Landry Fields, and Quincy Acy are all inactive for Toronto.
Deron Williams vs. Kyle Lowry/Jose Calderon. Advantage: Williams
My guess is that Lowry will not play. At this point in the season with Toronto playing as poorly as they are, there is no reason to rush Lowry back unless he is 100%. That is very good news for the Nets because Lowry looked great in the first game these two teams played against each other this year. Jose Calderon has been in Toronto forever and is a very good backup pg. He is averaging 10 points and 7 assists this season. After yesterday’s game, Deron Williams said that he has not played a good game yet this year. The last time he criticized himself, he had a season high in points against Oklahoma City. I expect him to have another great night tonight, possibly dropping 30 points against the injury-devastated Raptors.
Joe Johnson vs. Demar DeRozan. Advantage: Johnson
DeRozan is having the best year of his young career, averaging 19 ppg and 5 rpg. He is a solid NBA shooting guard, but he is not a superstar. Joe Johnson is coming off of one of his better games as a Net, but he is really just too unpredictable this season.
Gerald Wallace vs. Mickael Pietrus. Advantage: Wallace
The Raptors picked up Pietrus at the end of November and he has been starting for them because of their many injuries. He has been getting more minutes this season than ever before in his career and I would not be surprised to see him next on the Raptors’ injury parade. Gerald Wallace looked like he may have injured himself in the Knicks game yesterday, but he seems fine. Hopefully the Nets will not need all his hustle tonight and win this game easily.
Reggie Evans vs. Ed Davis/Andrea Bargnani. Advantage: Evans
I don’t think that Bargnani will play tonight because the Raptors don’t have much to play for. Expect Ed Davis to start in his place. Also, with Bargnani’s injury and Amir Johnson’s suspension, expect to see plenty of minutes from rookie Terrence Ross tonight. Davis is a solid backup but not a good starter. Reggie Evans had a season high 18 rebounds last night.
Andray Blatche vs. Jonas Valanciunas. Advantage: Blatche
This may be Blatche’s last game as a starter, which I’m sure the Nets are happy about. Blatche has played great in the starter role, but the bench really needs him. Last night, he was the Nets’ leading scorer with 23 points. I expect him to have another good game tonight going up against a rookie who probably hasn’t seen post moves like Blatche’s before. Valanciunas has been a bit of a disappointment, averaging only 8 points and 6 rebounds as a starter.
Prediction: Nets 111, Raptors 88.
I expect Brooklyn to take out its frustrations from the last 5 games tonight. Toronto has way too many injuries and is coming home after a long road trip, so this may have the feel of a road game to them even though they will be in their home arena. I will be disappointed if the Nets don’t blow this team out.