Nets & # 39; Kenny Atkinson: Raptors prove they are more than Kawhi Leonard


The networks have played up and down against their competition in recent weeks. They lost five games in a row against teams with victory records and then came out of a seven-game course against teams under 500 with a 5: 2 mark.

Two games against the Raptors – Saturday in Toronto and Wednesday at the Barclays Center – that take place around Monday in Indiana are a tough test for the Nets, who are currently in playoff position 7 in the Eastern Conference.

The defending NBA champion Raptors lost striker Kawhi Leonard to the free agency last summer, but is currently only behind the best bokers in the East standings. Toronto also has a winning streak of 13 games in the Saturday night game.

"Just a tough matchup. Great challenge, ”said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson after training on Friday in Brooklyn about the Raptors. "I feel like we play better and they play back to back. That gives us a little bit more confidence."

"But I've been saying it since the beginning of the year. I think they are a team fighting for the championship." I said it when we played it in the exhibition [season], You are really good. And they play without [Marc] petrol [hamstring]That makes it even more impressive. It is a real credit to them. "

Kenny Atkinson
Kenny AtkinsonCorey Sipkin

Leonard scored an average of 26.6 points per game in his only season in Toronto after seven years in San Antonio, but he ended Canada on a $ 103 million three-year deal with the Clippers to deal with Paul George that season to team up in Los Angeles.

Raptor's power striker Pascal Siakam, who was voted the best player in the league in 2018-19, has made another leap forward this season and made his first all-star career start with 23.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per appearance secured.

Fred VanVleet and 33-year-old All-Star Point Guard Kyle Lowry's starting place under coach Nick Nurse collected more than 37 points and 14 assists per game in the second year. The former Net Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also plays almost 20 minutes per game off the bench, averaging 7.4 points and 4.9 rebounds.

"I think the fact that they had Kawhi was the excuse that they won because of Kawhi. I don't think it's that easy, "said Atkinson." They have proven that they really do it in a team concept. You have an amazing amount of young people who help. I think it's thanks to their development.

"Nick's system obviously fits what they do. Siakam made a huge leap was really important. I think Kyle, you talk about the winners of the league, people who know how to win in this league. He's just right for me in the top 5. He only knows how to win. "

The Nets (23-27), which had done no business until Thursday, have lost both previous two meetings with the Raptors this season. You will be able to do without Kyrie Irving again, who did not go into the second round because of the knee injury he suffered against Washington last Saturday.

"We obviously miss him on the floor. He is our general manager, ”said Center DeAndre Jordan. “He trains and films and obviously tries to hurry and get 100 percent healthy where we need him, but he's still here and talking to the boys, pointing out small, different details that we have to do to get better as a team and up to a full 48 minutes [against Toronto] as possible."