Saturday, November 3, 2012

Game 1 Preview: Toronto Raptors (0-1) at Brooklyn Nets (0-0)

Finally, the Barclays Center court will see some NBA regular season action tonight
When: 7:30 pm; Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Where: Barclays Center; Brooklyn, NY

TV: YES Network

Ok folks, it's really here. No, actually. Unless some other event beyond our control strikes the NYC Metro area in the next few hours, there will be basketball played at the Barclays Center--regular season NBA basketball--involving the Brooklyn (!) Nets and the Canadian Prehistoric Creatures Toronto Raptors. As you all must know by now, tonight's game was originally supposed to be the Nets' second game of the 2012-13 NBA season, as their November 1st game in Brooklyn against the Knicks was postponed to November 26th because of Hurricane Sandy.

The Raptors' first game of the season, played on Wednesday against the Pacers, wasn't affected by the storm. Toronto fell 90-88 to Indiana at the Air Canada Centre as Kyle Lowry, picked up by the Raptors from the Houston Rockets via trade over the summer, scored 21 points, grabbed seven boards, dished out eight assists and even nabbed five steals as well in the losing effort. Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon added in 16 and 15 points respectively for the Raps on the game.

Anyway, lets go back to the Nets. Tonight's game, albeit against the Raptors instead of the higher-profile Knicks, is much more than a singular game, or a tallymark in either the W or L column. It represents the culmination of years and years of planning by Nets' management to move the embattled franchise from the doldrums of New Jersey to the bright lights of the Big Apple. A win doesn't mean that much, a loss doesn't mean that much. The truth is that for tonight, that youth sports cliche of "All that matters is that you play the game" rings true. The Nets are playing a regular season home game at the Barclays Center and that's all that matters.

Granted, it would be nice for the Nets to get a win in their first-ever game (that counts) in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. These Raptors, contrary to the beliefs of most of the people who picked them to finish last in the Atlantic Division this season, are a pretty deep squad with a starting lineup that could cause serious matchup issues for some teams. Luckily for the Nets, they look to match up pretty well with Toronto because the Raptors' glaring strength is in their backcourt as they are weaker up front with their starting bigmen, Bargnani and the young Euro Valanciunas.

Kyle Lowry is a really good (and big) and prototypical stat-stuffing point guard--Nets fans, think Jason Kidd in the 2001 and 2002 Finals--who can't do it all on the court. He's a good shooter, great passer and rebounding, and, with his big frame, plays solid defense. In addition, Toronto's backup point guard corps is stacked, with Jose Calderon and even John Lucas III filling in off the bench. 

The rest of the Raptors roster arguably isn't as talented as it is at the 1, but with the recently-extended DeMar DeRozan at shooting guard, former Knick Landry Fields at the 3, all-offense no-defense Andre Bargnani at power forward and Valanciunas at center, Toronto is pretty set in their starting lineup. Add that to Ed Davis and Amir Johnson, among others, coming off the bench, and the Raptors are a more formidable foe than most expect them to be.
Probable Lineups 
TOR- Lowry (PG), DeRozan (SG), Fields (SF), Bargnani (PF), Valanciunas (C)
NETS- D-Will (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Wallace (SF), Humphries (PF), Lopez (C)
Final Thoughts

I think I covered everything I wanted to say up top, but to summarize, tonight is the beginning of an era, not just a game. This team is for real now, not just a laughingstock to be on ESPN's Not Top-Ten every Friday. Just like New York City and Brooklyn, the Nets aren't gonna be glanced over or overlooked anymore; they are gonna be noticed.

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