Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets Preview
The NBA playoffs get underway Monday and the defending champions are among the teams that will be in action. The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets will meet in game one between the 2-seed Raptors and 7-seed Nets.
The Toronto Raptors come into the matchup with a 53-19 record overall. They went 7-1 during the seeding games with their only loss coming to the Boston Celtics. Toronto is the defending champions but they are a different team this postseason but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as dangerous as last year. The Raptors went 58-24 last year with a net rating of +6.1 (via Cleaning the Glass) and this year they went 53-19 with a net rating of +5.7.
Brooklyn was one of the surprises of the seeding games as many expected the Nets to struggle mightily with so many players out but they went 5-3 and proved to be a tough out despite their roster disadvantage. The Nets are 35-37 overall and they did get impressive wins over Milwaukee and the LA Clippers during their seeding games. Brooklyn will need big performances from their trio of Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen if they want to make this series a tough one for Toronto.
The Raptors and Nets played four times during the regular season and Toronto won the season series 3-1. The Nets did win the last matchup between the two teams back on February 12.
Time: 4 PM ET
Arena: AdventHealth Arena, Orlando, FL
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Raptors: Serge Ibaka (GTD), OG Anunoby (GTD), Oshae Brissett (O)
Nets: Jamal Crawford (O)
Toronto Raptors Starting Lineup
When the NBA return schedule came out many expected the Raptors to struggled given how hard of a schedule they received. However, that was not the case as the Raptors went 7-1 and looked like the best team in the East outside of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Toronto picked up wins over the Lakers, Heat, Bucks, Sixers during the seeding games and their only loss came against the Celtics.
According to Cleaning the Glass, the Raptors had the 5th best net rating during the seeding games at +3.2. Their offense ranked 19th out of 22 teams but their defense was the best. Toronto’s defense was 3.5 points better than the second-place Celtics and that difference was the same point differential as the Celtics and the seventh-place Clippers.
Toronto could see its offense look better in this series as the Nets finished 18th in defensive rating during the seeding games. Given that the Nets don’t have great options at point guard you can expect Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet to be guys who could have a big series numbers-wise.
In the four meetings during the regular season, the Raptors averaged 108.9 points per 100 possessions vs the Nets while allowing only 104.7 points.
Brooklyn Nets Starting Lineup
Despite coming into the NBA’s return with over seven players being out the Nets not only held off the Magic for the seventh seed but they also impressed many going 5-3 in the seeding games.
Brooklyn leaned heavily on its offense as they had the league’s 8th best offense during the seeding games according to Cleaning the Glass. The Nets defense ranked 18th out of 22 teams and was the main reason they had a net rating of -1.0.
According to Cleaning the Glass, the Nets were in the top five in shooting percentage in shots from the rim, long mid-range, and corner three. If the Nets want a competitive series they will need to continue shooting those high percentages especially from three where they shot 37.6% (111-295) which was eighth-best in the seeding games.
The Nets will lean on their trio of Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen. The trio averaged 60.7 points per game combined during the eight seeding games with LeVert and Harris averaging over 20 per game.
Raptors vs Nets Fantasy Basketball Angle
The Nets could have several intriguing options for daily fantasy as both Caris LeVert and Joe Harris have been putting up great numbers lately. Both players will be heavily involved on the offensive end and LeVert was just named to the All-NBA seeding games second team. Despite going up against a dominant Toronto Raptors defense both players should have opportunities to get fantasy points.
As for the Raptors look for at their guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet to take advantage of a porous Nets defense. Pascal Siakam could also be a solid play as well. VanVleet averaged 26.7 points per game vs Brooklyn to go along with 6.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds.
Raptors vs Nets Betting Odds
Raptors Odds: +440
Nets Odds: -590
The Raptors should be looked at as massive favorites and the early spread between the two teams is Raptors -9.5. Expect a strong performance from the Raptors especially by their defense which was the best during the seeding games. As for the over/under the Nets and Raptors combined to score over 222 combined points twice in their four meetings. Given how strong Toronto has looked since the NBA returned I would lean towards the under.
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