3. Nets need to limit impact of Green, Siakam
The key to beating the Toronto Raptors is to try and slow down Kawhi Leonard and not let Kyle Lowry get into a zone.
That’s the conventional wisdom, at least.
But for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday, the key to victory may lie a bit deeper on the Raptors’ depth chart — shooting guard Danny Green and power forward Pascal Siakam.
Green has been absolutely sizzling of late. Over his last nine games, Green has averaged 13.7 points per game and has hit an unconscious 58.6 percent of his 6.4 3-point attempts per game.
Green went off for a season-high 29 points, hitting 7-of-10 from deep, in Toronto’s 121-109 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday night and has shot up to second in the NBA in 3-point shooting behind Joe Harris of the Nets, now hitting 45.7 percent on the season.
Harris, who is at 47.6 percent this year as he heads toward becoming the first Net to lead the league in the category, has been very toasty himself from long range over the last five games.
He’s canned 59.4 percent on 6.4 tries a game from behind the arc and is averaging 18.2 points per game in that stretch.
The more problematic matchup may be the lengthy and rapidly improving Siakam at the 4.
Siakam was a limited-minutes starter for 38 games as a rookie in 2016-17 and was a rotational forward off the bench for all but five games a season ago.
But this year, Siakam has made a big leap. He’s started 75 of the 76 games in which he’s appeared and his minutes are up from 20.7 per game a season ago to 32.0 this year. He’s scoring 16.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists a night and shooting 54.6 percent overall.
More significantly, Siakam has become a legitimate floor-spacing threat, hitting 35.5 percent on 2.6 3-point attempts a game this season. He entered this season a career 21.6 percent shooter from downtown.
Spicy P is 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds, which makes him a physical load for any of Brooklyn’s vast array of undersized 4s, with rookie Rodions Kurucs likely to get the first crack at him as the starter for the Nets.
He was taken 27th overall by the Raptors in 2016, a product of Cameroon via Lewisville, Texas, via New Mexico State and was thought of as a project at the time.
The project has become a player … one capable of hurting the Nets at their most vulnerable spot, the troublesome 4 position.