To suggest that tonight’s game will be anything normal does just not understand the situation. First this is a home opener for a team which on its own can be something to overcome. Now add in the facts, that this is the first pro sports team to play a game that counts in Brooklyn in over 50 years, in a city that is feeling the aftermath of a devastating hurricane.
Quite simply this is nothing like your average night in the NBA as much as the Raptors have tried to down play it all. This is beyond just the challenges of your average road contest. Something the Raptors were not the greatest at to begin with last season.
This is a new team though with new parts and will see how they respond to life on the road something that will be a common thing for them in the first two months of the NBA season.
Here are some keys to watch for tonight with the Raptors and Nets in Brooklyn:
The Start: It is going to be a longer than average opening to the game it will have a special type feeling of a playoff game mixed in with an opener. The start of games was a problem for this team in the pre-season and if they get down early in this one good luck coming back. This is going to be a jacked up crowd that will be pumped up and if you let them get into this game they are not likely to go away. The Raptors will be battling not just 5 Nets on the floor but a likely sell-out crowd as well. There will be few, if any cheering for the Toronto Raptors.
Wings Need to Defend and Fly: DeMar and Landry will first need to stop Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace and after that if they can do that need to both get out and run to get some easy points when they can. The two were far form good in the opener and need to be much improved tonight to give the Raptors any hope.
Lowry Needs to Play Smart on D: Lowry likes to take chances on D. In this game he might want to dial that back a touch against Deron Williams. He is likely to take advantage of anything you give him. If you are going to gamble you better be certain you have help to justify it. Also do not get caught up in the smack talk and lose site of things.
Andrea Bargnani a Consistent 48 Minutes: Andrea Bargnani came out in the opener a house on fire and faded into the abyss by the fourth. We need a much more consistent effort and he needs to draw Lopez or Humphries away from the paint on offense where-ever possible.
Bench win their battle: Nets have an improved bench but so do the Raptors. Jose Calderon needs to lead the reserves when out there and turn this into an advantage for the Raptors. They can not be out performed by the Nets reserves.
That is about it. You hope to see the same type of performance from Jonas. It should be a greater challenge to get rebounds in this one with Kris Humphries in this one. This is likely not a game the Raptors can win or should win but if you have been watching the early NBA results that don’t mean they won’t win