There figures to be considerably less scoring - and energy - at Air Canada Centre on Sunday.
Injuries have removed much of the offensive punch from the Nets and Raptors, who have lost a combined 17 of 19 heading into the fourth and final matchup between the Atlantic Division’s worst teams.
There have been few highlights in this forgettable season for New Jersey (24-55) and Toronto (21-58), but the finale of their two-game weekend set at the O2 Arena certainly stood out.
The Nets won the first meeting 116-103 on March 4, and there was even more fireworks a day later. That game saw 27 ties and 21 lead changes - five in the three overtimes - as New Jersey beat the Raptors 137-136 when Andrea Bargnani’s(notes) jumper at the buzzer fell short.
The teams are a combined 9-24 since returning from Europe, with Toronto having dropped nine of 10 and New Jersey losing eight of nine. Injuries have had plenty to do with that.
With those absences forcing the Nets to start Mario West(notes) and Dan Gadzuric(notes) in the frontcourt, they didn’t put up much of a fight Friday against New York. Brook Lopez(notes) had 27 points, but undermanned New Jersey was outrebounded 48-38 in a 116-93 loss.
“We have three starters out. It is what it is. You just have to finish strong and keep playing through the end of the season,” guard Jordan Farmar(notes) said. “The guys are out there giving it their all and however it goes, it goes.”
The Raptors are in a similar situation as Bargnani, Leandro Barbosa(notes), Jose Calderon(notes) and Amir Johnson(notes) have missed time over the past week. None of them played Friday in a 98-93 loss at Philadelphia, an effort that pleased coach Jay Triano even though he wasn’t around to see the end after being ejected in the fourth quarter.
“We said we weren’t going to quit and we didn’t,” he said.
Barbosa and Johnson seem to have the best chance of returning, and New Jersey certainly wouldn’t be upset to see Bargnani sit out again. He has averaged 30.0 points in three games against the Nets this season.