The Toronto Raptors will try to extend their franchise-best winning streak to 14 games Saturday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets.
The Raptors won their 13th in a row Friday night, 115-106 over the host Indiana Pacers, with Serge Ibaka scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Toronto was coming off a 119-118 home win over the Pacers on Wednesday, when Ibaka scored the winning 3-pointer. The Raptors had won 11 straight twice before, in 2016 and 2018.
The Nets, who have not played since a 129-88 home victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, have won two in a row and four of their past five.
Brooklyn, however, has lost nine straight in Toronto and five in a row overall to the Raptors.
Toronto has continued to win despite injuries all season to important players, but it sustained another health problem Friday.
Kyle Lowry left the game with what was described as whiplash after taking a hard fall during the third quarter. The team announced he would be evaluated Saturday, but coach Nick Nurse said he would not count on Lowry for the game against the Nets.
Marc Gasol (hamstring) has missed five games and likely will not return until after the All-Star break. Norman Powell (fracture in left hand) has missed three games and is out indefinitely.
“I just think (Gasol is) in pretty decent shape,” Nurse said. “I would imagine with the break coming, etc., I’m not sure we’ll be rushing him to get him back before the break. Then we get to buy another week or so. I wouldn’t hold me to that, certainly take him if he gets back before that, but I can see that as a scenario playing out.”
Neither team made a deal Thursday at the trade deadline.
“I really believe in this group, I think there’s guys that have certainly raised their own profile which has in turn raised the profile of our team,” Nurse said. “I think we’ve developed a bit of a bench, as well, which we can count on, right?”
The Nets enter the game Saturday on a 5-2 surge, taking advantage of a soft part of the schedule. Like the Raptors, the Nets have had injuries to key players.
Kyrie Irving (right knee sprain) and Caris LeVert have missed a combined 55 games. Irving remains out, and he did not travel to Toronto. Kevin Durant (Achilles) is not expected to play this season.
“At the end of the day, that’s like 50 percent of our offense still sitting on the bench,” said Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, referring to Durant and Irving. “It’s great for a lot of us to be healthy and be playing. But even if you have Nos. 3 through 15 playing, the whole makeup of everything changes when those two get back. … It changes everything.”
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson added, “If we take care of the ball, we’ve got enough talent in there to be a top-10 offense, there’s no doubt about it. But we’ve just got to keep working on taking care of the ball better. Being healthy and playing stable lineups is going to help that tremendously.”
The Raptors have won both games between the teams this season, 110-102 on Dec. 14 in Toronto and 121-102 on Jan. 4 at Brooklyn.
“I’ve said it since the beginning of the year, I think they’re a championship-contending team,” Atkinson said following practice on Friday. “I said it when we played them in the preseason. They’re really good.”
–Field Level Media