Toronto Raptors (18-28) at New Jersey Nets (20-25) Pick O/U 196 7:30 PM ET Wednesday January 28, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the Toronto Raptors travel to the Garden State to play the New Jersey Nets. While it is no surprise that the Nets are a few games under .500 it is a surprise that the Raptors are. The Raptors had high hopes coming into the season when they traded for Jermaine O’Neal, but he has not played near the dominating player he was in the past and the Raptors are currently in last place in the Atlantic Division 19 games back of the 1st place Celtics. While both teams are 3-7 in their last 10 games, the Raptors have won 2 in a row, while the Nets are coming off a loss. Both these teams have the talent to make the playoffs, but need to start winning, as the Nets are currently in 9th place in the Eastern Conference and the Raptors are 13th.
This season the Nets are 9-14 at home and the Raptors are 9-16 away from the Great White North.
This is a pick em’ game with a total around 196 points. Both teams are posted at -110 in this game.
The Nets are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, losing to the league’s worst team 94-85. The leading scorer for the Nets in that game was Brook Lopez going for 18 points on 8/13 shooting. Star guard Devin Harris had a horrible night only going for 10 points on 4/17 from the field. Yeah, no wonder the Nets lost. For the game the Nets shot 34/85 for a FG% of 40%. On defense the Nets allowed the Thunder to shoot 30/73 from the floor for a FG% of 41.1%.
The Raptors are coming off a 113-97 win over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night. The high scorer for the Raptors in that game was Chris Bosh going for 31 points on 12/22 shooting and also grabbing 8 boards. For the game the Raptors shot 41/78 for a scorching FG% of 52.6%. On defense the Raptors allowed the Kings to shoot 36/83 for a FG% of 43.4%.
Neither of these teams light up the scoreboard, as the Nets rank 17th in scoring (98.2 ppg) and the Raptors rank 20th (97.7 ppg). The reason both teams are under .500 is that neither team averages more points that they give up. The Raptors are giving up an average of 99.7 ppg (18th in league) and the Nets are giving up 101.2 ppg (21st in the league). Both teams are in the negative in terms of rebounding differential and the Raptors are at -2.9 rpg and the Nets are only at -0.2 rpg.
This season the Raptors are 19-24-3 ATS and the Nets are 23-22. In terms of Over/Under the Raptors are 24-20-2 and the Nets are 22-23.
On the injury front neither team is reporting any significant injuries.
The Nets are one of the few teams in the league that are still in the playoff hunt that have a better road record than home record.
The main match up in this game will be at C with Nets rookie Brook Lopez (11.4 ppg) and the Raptors Andrea Bargnani (13.5 ppg). Lopez has been solid all season and Bargnani has played great lately averaging 21.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg in his last 8 games. The C that has the big game and controls the glass may win this game.
Devin Harris (21.5 ppg) has to get over his horrid last game, as the Nets need his scoring. The Raptors will need to play good D on Harris and Vince Carter (21.3), who are averaging a combined 42.8 ppg. If the Raptors can keep these guys from scoring big they have a huge advantage in this game.
The Raptors recently got PG Jose Calderon (13.3 ppg) and PF Jermaine O’Neal (13.2 ppg) back from injury and they need these guys in the lineup to make the playoffs, as Chris Bosh (23.3 ppg) can’t do it all himself.
Speaking of Bosh, he is the Man for the Raptors and he will be hard to contain. Bargnani has to keep Lopez occupied, so Bosh can work his magic inside. If he does not Lopez can protect the rim, as he is a legit shot blocker, ranking 5th in the league (1.93 blocks per game).
The Nets have won 2 of 3 against the Raptors this season, with both victories coming in Toronto.
Both teams are fighting to get into the playoffs and the Raptors need to move up in the rankings soon, or they will be seen as one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season.