3 keys to Raptors leapfrogging Nets in loaded Eastern Conference

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives on Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 07: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets drives on Scottie Barnes #4 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images) /
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As if the Toronto Raptors didn’t have enough problems staring them in the face as the 2022-23 season looks to get started, they must figure out how to build a winning team in arguably the toughest division in the NBA. Teams like the rival Brooklyn Nets are going to be a pain in the rear end all year long.

While the Nets had an incredibly noisy offseason prompted by an unfulfilled trade request from Kevin Durant and more Kyrie Irving drama, it appears as though everyone has buried the hatchet. Ben Simmons is ready to go, giving the Nets a deadly trio of stars they can lean on.

The Raptors will face Brooklyn four times in the regular season, the first of which will come tonight in New York. While the Nets may have heaps of star power and championship experience, this is still a flawed team that a coach with enough moxie can expose.

Toronto needs to check these three boxes in their matchups against the Nets to establish itself as a team that is superior to Brooklyn. Even with KD and Kyrie giving them 50 automatic points every night, the Raptors have legitimate paths to victory.

3 keys to Toronto Raptors overtaking Nets in loaded East

1. Shoot like crazy from 3-point range

The Raptors have become infamous for their inability to consistently be a threat from deep, as names like O.G. Anunoby and Fred VanVleet have taken on an inordinate amount of responsibility in that area with this team. Against Brooklyn, Toronto needs to fully lean into their ability to snipe from long range.

The Nets have as many perimeter threats as anyone in the league, but they are still a poor defensive team. Irving and Seth Curry remain two of the worst perimeter defenders in the league, while Joe Harris might be extremely limited on that end due to injuries. VanVleet, Trent, and the injured Otto Porter Jr. need to cook in these games.

The Toronto Raptors must out-shoot the Nets.

Not only is getting hot from deep the best way to attack Brooklyn’s defense, but it may be the only way to keep pace with them offensively. A lineup featuring Joe Harris, Seth Curry, Irving, and Durant features four players who could all shoot over 40% from 3-point range. Layups at the rim are not going to help Toronto keep pace.

The Raptors were able to ride their unique style of play to victories against confused teams last year, but this season will not afford them the same element of surprise. With their defensive alignment now more well-known to the NBA world, they need to step up offensively.