Josh Weinstein

The Toronto Raptors seek a fifth straight win when they visit the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center Monday night. The game tips off at 7:30 PM ET and is available on Sportsnet One and TSN 1050.

Toronto is off to its strongest start in franchise history with a 27-10 record, in large part due to the team’s newfound offensive approach that features more ball movement and 3-point shooting.

DeMar DeRozan has been the main catalyst at the forefront of the Raptors basketball renaissance, reinventing himself as an offensive distributor and surprisingly effective 3-point marksman. The Compton native ushered in the New Year with a franchise-best 52-point outburst and enters Monday’s matchup averaging 36 points and six assists since the calendar turned to 2018. As long as DeRozan is producing with this much offensive diversity and efficiency, the Raptors will always have a legitimate chance to win, even against the league’s elite. With matchups against Golden State and Cleveland later this week, Toronto will get a chance to prove just that.

However, before they arrive at those two challenging tests in the schedule, the Raptors need to take care of business in the final game of their road trip in Brooklyn.

The Nets enter Monday nine games below .500 at 15-24 and face a challenging, yet self-inflicted dilemma. Because of ill-informed trades, Cleveland owns Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round draft pick, meaning the Nets have really no incentive to tank for a high selection come June. With a lack of talent capable of helping them compete at a high-level on a night-to-night basis, and no sign of help coming in the foreseeable future, head coach Kenny Atkinson’s club is forced to settle for mediocre performances, at least until 2019.

If you had to find a bright spot on the Nets roster, it would be Spencer Dinwiddie. The 2014 second-round pick has filled in admirably at point guard for the injured D’Angelo Russell, averaging 13 points and a tad over six assists this season. With a very team-friendly contract that pays him just over $2 million this season and next combined, Dinwiddie appears to be a true diamond-in-the-rough for Brooklyn.

Projected starting lineups:

Toronto Raptors (27-10)

  • PG Kyle Lowry
  • SG DeMar DeRozan
  • SF OG Anunoby
  • PF Serge Ibaka
  • C Jonas Valanciunas

Brooklyn Nets (15-24)

  • PG Spencer Dinwiddie
  • SG Allen Crabbe
  • SF Caris LaVert
  • PF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
  • C Tyler Zeller