On Monday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets (35-37) will tip-off against the defending champion Toronto Raptors (53-19) in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The best-of-seven series will be held inside ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. It has been six years since these two teams last met in the playoffs, with the Nets winning the seven-game series.
Both teams had success since the league restart, with the Raptors going 7-1 and the Nets finishing 5-3. Scheduled tip-off for the game is 4 p.m. EST and can be seen on ESPN.
Toronto is a -9.5 favorite, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets were a surprise team once the league got back to action. The seven-seed has been playing without stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving along with role players DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Dinwiddie. Additionally, the Nets fired head coach Kenny Atkinson right before the pandemic shutdown league play and placed Jaque Vaughn as the interim head coach.
Caris LeVert has stepped up to be the Nets go-to guy on offense. LeVert averaged 18.8 points in Orlando to go along with 5.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game. Forward Joe Harris added 15 points a game on 18-of-37 shooting from beyond the arc.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is also performing well in the Nets rotation. The former first-round draft pick scored 14.8 points and grabbed 3.6 rebounds per contest.
Offensively Brooklyn has averaged and allowed exactly 119.9 points per game in the bubble. The Nets went 1-3 against the Raptors during the regular season, dropping the first three and winning the final meeting before the pause in play.
What to Know – Toronto Raptors
Toronto is the hottest team in the league, having won 11 of their last 12 contests heading into the postseason. The Raptors posted their winningest season in franchise history with a 73.6% win percentage and clinched the second-best record in the league.
Since the departure of Kwahi Leonard, the offense has been run through Pascal Siakam. Siakam leads the team averaging 22.9 points per game on the season. Kyle Lowry (19.4 ppg) and Fred VanFleet (17.6 ppg) provide excellent scoring from the guard position.
Toronto possesses one of the league’s most balanced scoring offenses, with six players averaging in double-figures during the regular season.
Over the final eight games of the regular season in the bubble, Toronto averaged 110.8 points while surrendering 106.4 points. The Raptors had the league’s top-scoring defense during the regular season.
The Pick is In
Both teams have performed at a high level during their Orlando stay. The Nets have found their identity on offense without a handful of their top players. Toronto possesses the playoff experience even without Leonard.
The Raptors should win this one, but it should be an entertaining and physical matchup throughout the game. Take the Nets +9.5 in the opening playoff game.