James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets welcome in the Toronto Raptors Friday night. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Brooklyn Nets and their juggernaut offense host the Toronto Raptors Friday night
- Toronto’s Fred VanVleet is coming off a scintillating 54-point performance vs Orlando
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
Literally months ago, the Toronto Raptors were putting the touches on a tidy 4-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA playoffs. Toronto was one of the favorites to win a title, and the Nets were the little engine that could — decimated by injuries but a scrappy, resilient bunch.
Things. Done. Changed.
The two teams meet in a freaky Friday turn of events in Brooklyn, where all anyone is talking about is the absolute Frankenstein they’ve created by pairing James Harden with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The Raptors, meanwhile, are just trying to find their way into the playoff picture, and find themselves as 5-point underdogs in this one.
Raptors vs Nets Odds
|Toronto Raptors||+5 (-106)||+180||Ov 242.5 (-110)|
|Brooklyn Nets||-5 (-114)||-215||Un 242.5 (-110)|
Odds from FanDuel taken February 4. Tip-off is Friday at 7:30pm ET
Outscoring Their Problems
The scary part about the Brooklyn Nets is that they’re 23 games into this, and there’s still so much room to grow.
This is a team that is blistering the league in scoring, putting up 122.3 a game, with their big three playing just four of a possible nine games together so far this season.
Ball movement on point early ✅@KDTrey5 | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/Pn7G4E9AJC
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 1, 2021
Brooklyn makes things look so easy: they lead the NBA in shooting at 50.1% from the field, rank second behind the Clippers in three-point shooting at 40.1%, and they’re fifth in the league in assists, doling out 27 dimes a night.
And when it all breaks down, they have arguably the three best one-on-one scorers in basketball to go get something done.
KYRIE IRVING 🗣️
He drops a season-high 39 points to go with 6 3PM, 5 REB and 56 FPTS in the @BrooklynNets W over the Clippers. pic.twitter.com/wLLJeAuqg0
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) February 3, 2021
Brooklyn is coming off its best signature game of the season, a 124-120 win over the LA Clippers. Irving led the way with a season-high 39, while combining with Durant (28 points, 9 reb) and Harden (23 points, 10 reb, 11 ast) to drop 90 on a team that features two of the best defenders in the league in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
For now, don’t worry they are a turnstile of a defense, a unit that leads the league in second-chance points allowed, is third-worst in points surrendered in the paint and averages 124.9 points against in their losses. In the regular season, no team is ready for the storm that’s about to hit them.
Raptors Will Try To Hang
Hopefully, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has some more bullets in the chamber from the Orlando game when he gets to Brooklyn. The diminutive guard set the franchise single-game scoring mark by dropping 54 on the Magic, including a hail of three balls that ripped mesh 11-of-14 times.
After a brutal 2-8 start to the year, the Raptors have climbed back to 9-12, sitting 10th in the East. They’ve already had three 3-game losing skids this year, getting past the last one with a mini-sweep of the Magic.
NEW RAPTORS RECORD.
54 POINTS.@FredVanVleet. WOW. #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/OC5pmLPpw2
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 3, 2021
This edition of Toronto is undersized, and will be undermanned in Brooklyn. OG Anunoby, the team’s best defender, is out with a calf injury, and even lesser-used Patrick McCaw could have been valuable as a wing defender, but he’s out with a knee injury.
I’m sure Nick Nurse has done the math, and there’s just not enough sturdy defenders past Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to stay man-to-man for much of this game, so expect some zone and whatever funky trick he has to try and knock the Nets off rhythm.
Pascal Siakam tallied 30 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST & 3 STL in the @Raptors home victory over Orlando! #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/XUifN4Q6Nr
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) February 1, 2021
In the end, Toronto will try to stay close with their usual formula: they’re second in the NBA in fast break points and points off turnovers, and they are second in the NBA in threes attempted per game at 42.5, where they’re hitting a 37.8% clip, which is eighth in the league.
The shots will be available, but can they hit enough to stay competitive in this one?
What’s The Best Bet?
This will be the first game Durant has played against the Raps since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, when he ruptured his Achilles. That odyssey took him on a 20+ month rehab stint, so there should be some incentive, even if there’s only remnants of that title team.
Also, Toronto is just 2-6 ATS in their last eight against teams with a winning record. Roll with the juggernaut here, folks.
The pick: Nets -5 (-114)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.