Toronto is favored by 6.5 points in a potential playoff matchup
Brooklyn and Toronto will face off for the third time this season tonight with both teams are hitting their stride at the right time. You could make a case that the Raptors are one of the best teams in the league right now. Toronto has won 13 straight games coming into this matchup! Their last loss came back on January 12th when they fell to the Spurs by one point at home. Meanwhile, the Nets look like they have found their groove as well. They may not have won 13 straight games, but they are 5-2 in their last seven match-ups. The problem is that the Nets have been beating up on some of the NBA’s worst teams while Toronto has found victories over potential playoff teams like the Pacers, the Thunder, and the 76ers. I fear this may be a tough game for the Brooklyn Nets.
I am sure I was not alone in thinking that the Raptors would have a down year after winning the NBA Championship because they lost their best player, Kawhi Leonard, to Free Agency. However, Toronto has shown that they have an excellent coaching staff and front office, so it should not come as much of a surprise that they have still managed to find success in the post-Kawhi era. At 38-14, the Raptors are in 1st place in the Atlantic Division, and they currently stand as the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture with a one and a half game lead over the Boston Celtics. The Raptors have managed to find success wherever they have played, posting a 19-7 record both at home and on the road. In fact, their 19-7 road record is the third best in the NBA behind only the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, the top two teams in the league today.
So how has Toronto managed to have so much success after losing its best player? They are playing complete team basketball. It all starts at the top with Pascal Siakam. The former first round pick is putting up 23.5 points per game, which is easily the highest mark of his career. On top of that, he is posting a career-high in assists per game and rebounds per game. His outstanding perfromance this season earned him a spot in the NBA All-Star game. Serge Ibaka has also rejuvenated his career in Toronto. The former Oklahoma City Thunder big man leads the team in rebounds while also averaging 16 points per game. The Raptors’ backcourt has also been on fire! Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet, and Kyle Lowry are all averaging over 15 points per game this season. Like I said before, Toronto is playing like a true team, just look at the numbers. Of the 18 players that have seen time on the court for Toronto this season, 13 of them are posting double-digit player efficiency ratings. To get a sense of how good this team is, all you have to do is look at their 13 game win streak. During that stretch, six different players have lead the team in scoring. Brooklyn will certainly have its hands full as they go on the road to face the hottest team in the league right now.
On paper, this game may be close, but I think things could get ugly in no time. The Nets will once again have to play without Kyrie Irving who has been nursing a knee injury since February 1st. The Nets have managed to win both their games since Kyrie’s injury, but those victories came against the Suns and the Warriors, two of the worst teams in the NBA. At the moment, the Raptors have had no problem beating up on teams that are worse than them. During their win streak, the Raptors have beaten four playoff teams by an average of 7.75 points per game. I think Toronto will once again beat a potential playoff team by that margin. The Raptors will cover the 6.5 point spread tonight as Brooklyn falls to 8-16 on the road this season.