Series: Raptors Lead 3-2
The Toronto Raptors have a chance to make history on Friday night at Barclays Center. The Raptors have never won a seven-game series, but find themselves in Brooklyn to take on the Nets with a 3-2 series lead.
With Game 5 going down to the final seconds before Toronto eked out a 115-113 victory, expect Game 6 to be a battle. While this young Raptors team has handled the pressure of the postseason well — save for the nerves shown in Game 1 — the Nets’ veterans have been in elimination games before. They will not go down lightly.
On Wednesday night, Kyle Lowry was sensational for the Raptors. Tying a career high with 36 points, he was the answer every time they found themselves in trouble. Toronto had a 26-point lead in the third quarter, but allowed Brooklyn to come all the way back in the fourth thanks to Joe Johnson shaking off a quiet Game 4.
With their backs against the wall, the Nets know it’s win or stay home. The Raptors would like to head straight to Miami from Brooklyn.
What To Watch
Three-Pointers: The Nets went through four games against the Raptors missing most of their open looks from beyond the arc. In the fourth quarter of Game 5, those shots started falling. Worse, the Raptors were a step slow defensively and wound up fouling three-point shooters. Those rotations and close outs will need to be on point in Friday’s game.
Small Forward Success: It’s no secret that sophomore Terrence Ross had been struggling on the offensive end in this series. Thanks to support from Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and his teammates continuing to look for him, Ross finally broke out of his shooting slump in Game 5. For Friday, regardless of whether or not he can get things going offensively, the Raptors will need Ross to stay locked in on the defensive end.
Officiating: There has been plenty of talk about the referees in this series. Earlier on, it was Casey sharing his thoughts. With Brooklyn’s season on the line, Nets head coach Jason Kidd has taken to lobbying the officials. Prior to Game 6, Kidd suggested it was odd that Joe Johnson had attempted 23 shots on Wednesday night and attempted just one free throw. With things expected to get physical at Barclays, there could be a lot of whistles. Teams will need to feel things out early and adjust accordingly.
- “I call that mental mistakes. You can’t foul shooters. And I was one of them. That’s just no excuse. You can’t foul shooters, three-point shooters. You can’t give four-point plays. It can’t happen anymore. The good thing about it is we won the game. Now we can definitely correct all of those mistakes we made. That was one. We can’t foul shooters. We did a couple times. We can’t leave the best shooters on the court wide open. That’s another mental mistake. We’ll get better. We’ve got to be hard on ourselves because we can’t be just happy because we on three games. We’ve got to understand that we want more, and we do. It’s good that we’re angry right now because it will be a good night for us to play angry. It’s going to be another street fight.” – Greivis Vasquez on fouling three-point shooters in the fourth quarter of Game 5
- “Stay hungry. We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to go into Brooklyn like we’re down a game. Honestly, we’ve got to keep that mindset and that focus. When we play like we’re under the gun, that’s when we play at our best. We can’t be comfortable at all.” – DeMar DeRozan on Dwane Casey’s message to the team heading into Game 6
- “That was our goal, to try to win the series. We weren’t just going to be satisfied to get into the playoffs. We’re worthy of being in the playoffs and we can win the series.” – Kyle Lowry on the opportunity to close out the series in Brooklyn
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Nets: Deron Williams (G), Shaun Livingston (G), Joe Johnson (F), Paul Pierce (F), Kevin Garnett (C)
Nets: Brook Lopez – fractured right foot (out)
Last Time They Met: Raptors 115, Nets 113 – Apr. 30th, 2014