Don’t look now but the Brooklyn Nets are the hottest team in the entire league owing to a great 2014 when they have gone 10-1 thus far. On Monday night, they will host the Toronto Raptors, which is to blame for their lone loss in this great stretch.
The Nets now carries a 20-22 win-loss card good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference and probably more importantly just 1 and 1/2 games off the Raptors which are at third place with a 22-21 record.
The teams have split their first two games this season and the last one happened January 11 in Toronto with a score of 96-80 for the Raptors, which was led by DeMar DeRozan (26 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists) plus a surprise contributor off the bench in Patrick Patterson (14 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals).
The Nets were held down to 40 per cent shooting (30-of-75 FGs) from the field and was outrebounded by Toronto, 49-39 in that game.
Since then, the Nets have responded well again winning five in a row including blowout victories over the Atlanta Hawks, 127-110; New York Knicks, 103-90 and Orlando Magic, 101-90; plus close wins over the Dallas Mavericks, 107-106 and the Boston Celtics, 85-79.
Over this stretch, Brooklyn has limited their opponents to just 91.9 points per game—a considerable improvement from 2013 when they completely struggled defensively.
The Raptors, losers of three of their last five games, will most likely miss DeRozan in their third match-up with the Nets. In his absence, wingman Terrence Ross scored a franchise record 51 points matching Vince Carter’s feat 14 years ago.
Ross hit 16 of 29 shots from the field including 10 three-pointers and is expected to step up once again for the Raptors if DeRozan can’t play.
Watch the Raptors vs. Nets via NBA League Pass.