Nets kick off season with Raptors in town

The Brooklyn Nets finally make their debut at their new home tonight when they host fellow Atlantic Division rival, the Toronto Raptors.

The team was scheduled to play its first game in Brooklyn Thursday night against now state-rival the New York Knicks, but the game was canceled due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

So now, the Nets debut in Brooklyn against the Raptors. The Nets will be Brooklyn's first major league sports team in 55 years.

Including the move to Brooklyn, the Nets had a spectacular offseason.

They re-signed All-NBA guard Deron Williams and traded for an All-Star backcourt compliment for him in the form of Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks.

The Nets brought back Gerald Wallace, who they traded for late last season, then refused to let the Dwight Howard saga linger, so they pulled out of that sweepstakes. They brought back their own big guys, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez, and now have a great starting five and a chance to contend for the Atlantic Division title.

"You never know how fast a team is going to come together, how things can come together," said Williams. "But I think our veteran leadership is going to help. We've got guys who are proven at this level."

The Raptors won't be at the Nets' level much this season.

They're certainly improved, but the Atlantic Division is too tough for Toronto.

They fell in their season opener at home against the Indiana Pacers when George Hill threw in a floater with about two seconds left in the game.

"That was a heartbreaking game, and it hurts to lose, but there were a lot of positives," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We just have to learn how to win late in games."

Kyle Lowry, who was acquired in the offseason from the Houston Rockets, led the Raptors with 21 points and eight assists. Andrea Bargnani netted 16 points and rookie Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double in his debut with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Raptors didn't shoot well against the Pacers (36.3 percent from the field and 35.3 percent from the 3-point line). Toronto didn't do a great job defending Indiana either. The Pacers shot 47.4 percent from the field and a jarring 45.5 percent from beyond the arc.

The Raptors have won nine of the last 13 meetings with the Nets, but the two teams split the last eight meetings.