NBA Preview: Toronto Raptors at New Jersey Nets - Nets Favored
71% of Bets Placed on Nets -3.5 | Matchup | NBA Picks
In an Atlantic Division that can't even be considered mediocre, Tuesday night's matchup between the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets qualifies as a "showdown," even though the teams are a combined nine games below the .500 mark.
With first place on the line, the division rivals meet for the third time this season when Toronto visits Continental Airlines Arena.
Oddsmakers have made New Jersey -3.5 point spread favorites
The Raptors are atop the Atlantic at 15-19, while the Nets are a half-game back at 14-19. It's the only division in which every team has a losing record.
Toronto is showing signs that it could be the club to seize the Atlantic title. Star forward Chris Bosh missed 12 games earlier in the season with an injured left knee, but the Raptors built some cohesiveness while they managed to split those games.
Toronto got starters T.J. Ford and Jorge Garbajosa back for Sunday's 116-111 victory over Washington. Ford returned after missing three games with a sprained right ankle, and Garbajosa was back after missing two games with a strained right calf.
"It feels really good to have T.J. and Garbo back," Bosh said. "This is the first time in a while that we've seen everyone together, especially since we have been playing a little bit better basketball. We are still looking to grow and get better and compete everyday."
Bosh had 24 points and 15 rebounds as Toronto won for the second time in three games since his return. He's shown no ill effects from the knee problem, averaging 23.7 points and 11.3 rebounds in those contests.
Ford scored 20 points, his fifth straight game with at least that many. He's averaging 23.0 points in the five games.
"It was a little painful," Ford said of his ankle. "But it was something I felt I could tolerate so that's what allowed me to play and what made the decision for me and the training staff. I don't think I'm putting it at any risk where I can injure it any worse than what it is."
In contrast, New Jersey's health woes probably won't get better. The Nets have already lost forward Nenad Krstic for the year and swingman Richard Jefferson is severely limited by a right ankle problem that has plagued him all season.
That leaves the Nets' fate largely in the hands of Vince Carter.
The former Raptor, though, hasn't played up to his standards over his last seven games, averaging 19.1 points on 38.7 percent shooting. He averaged 26.2 points on 46.2 percent from the field prior to this rough stretch.
The All-Star forward had another average game Saturday as New Jersey had a season-high three-game winning streak snapped with a 96-91 loss at Cleveland. Carter scored 18 points and misfired on a tying 3-point attempt in the closing seconds.
"It was a good look," Carter said. "A little bit short."
Toronto is 4-1 against Atlantic Division opponents, splitting the first two meetings with New Jersey.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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