Eastern Conference rivals Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors will face off in the first of their two scheduled matchups this month. Both teams have had to deal with a long list of injuries of late but enter this game on the back of respective wins.
Fixture: Brooklyn Nets vs Toronto Raptors | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Wednesday, April 21st, 7 PM ET (Thursday, 4:30 AM IST)
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Brooklyn Nets Preview
The Brooklyn Nets returned to winning ways in their matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans last night. Their upcoming game against the Toronto Raptors will be the third and final one of their current road trip. Steve Nash's men have evenly split their last six games but still find themselves comfortably occupying second place in the East.
Much of the Brooklyn Nets' shortcomings lately have been down to injuries to key players. James Harden has faced a setback in his rehab and could miss the rest of the regular season. Kevin Durant also suffered a left-thigh contusion against the Miami Heat and is likely to miss a second consecutive game.
Landry Shamet has picked up his scoring volume in the absence of Harden and Durant. Shamet has averaged 20.8 points through the last five games while shooting 55.6% from the field, 50% from downtown and 85.7% from the charity stripe. Sharpshooter Joe Harris has averaged 18.2 points on 57.6% shooting during the same tenure.
Key Player - Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving is the de facto leader of the Brooklyn Nets in the absence of Harden and KD. His 32-point performance last night led the Brooklyn Nets to a win against the New Orleans Pelicans. Irving has averaged 24.7 points and 7.6 assists through 11 games in April so far. He only managed 15 points in the previous encounter against the Toronto Raptors and will be looking to do better this time around.
Brooklyn Nets Predicted Lineup
G Kyrie Irving, G Landry Shamet, F Joe Harris, F Jeff Green, C DeAndre Jordan
Toronto Raptors Preview
The Toronto Raptors have made the most of an easy slate of games on their schedule, coupled with home advantage. The Raptors have successfully reignited their playoff push by winning three games in a row. They're currently the 12th seed but are just half a game behind the 10th placed Chicago Bulls.
What's even more impressive is that the Toronto Raptors have won their last three matchups without a load of key players in the rotation. Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have missed one or multiple games in the last week. All four have been cleared to play against the Brooklyn Nets.
Chris Boucher has played a crucial role for the Toronto Raptors during their recent stretch of games. Boucher had 31 points and 12 rebounds against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. He's averaged 15.9 points and 8.8 rebounds through 10 games in April. Gary Trent Jr. returned from a two-game layoff against the Thunder as well and managed 23 points.
Key Player - Pascal Siakam
Pascal Siakam has missed the last two games with a shoulder issue but was having an incredible run in April prior to that. Siakam has averaged 25.4 points, 4.4 assists and 6.3 rebounds through seven games this month. He even managed a game-high 33 points against the Brooklyn Nets last time around. The Nets' frontcourt defense is rather mediocre and Siakam can give the Toronto Raptors the advantage by exploiting it.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
G Kyle Lowry, G Fred VanVleet, F OG Anunoby, F Pascal Siakam, C Chris Boucher
Nets vs Raptors Match Prediction
Given that the Brooklyn Nets are likely to field a paper-thin rotation, the Toronto Raptors hold the edge on paper. It must be remembered, though, that the Raptors themselves have several players only just returning from injury layoffs. Also, if Kyrie Irving is allowed to have his way, there's every chance that he'll take his side across the finish line. Expect this to be a closely contested affair, with the Nets taking the spoils in the end.
Where to watch Nets vs Raptors?
Local coverage of this game will be available on YES 2 while TSN will broadcast the same in Canada. You can also live stream this matchup via the NBA League Pass.