Series: Nets 1-0
Game 1 between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors had it all: An incredible home crowd, a rough playoff debut for Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan and late-game heroics from future Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce.
Let’s not forget the pregame pump up talk from general manager Masai Ujiri that sent shockwaves around the NBA, or the crowd of greater than 5,000 that stood outside of the arena to watch the game at Maple Leaf Square.
With DeRozan, Terence Ross and Amir Johnson all struggling, the Raptors succumbed to the veteran savvy of the Nets down the stretch. Thanks to two days off in between games, Toronto hopes to have had enough time to shake off the first-time nerves before Game 2 tips off Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.
What To Watch
Raptors looking to get DeRozan going early: After scoring 14 points on 3-for-13 shooting in Game 1, Toronto knows it needs to get its leading scorer off to a better start in Game 2. DeRozan will need to find the balance between attacking and facilitating for his teammates when the Nets key in on him defensively.
Jonas Valanciunas against Kevin Garnett: The play of Valanciunas was the one overwhelmingly positive sign for the Raptors in their Game 1 loss. Scoring 17 points and grabbing a Raptors franchise playoff-record 18 rebounds, Valanciunas came up big in his first postseason game, and Brooklyn didn’t have an answer for him. With Valanciunas growing more confident over the past month, expect Toronto to look for him often in Game 2.
Terrence Ross staying on the floor: Limited to just 16 minutes on Saturday because of foul trouble, the sophomore swingman is hoping to defend with his feet more than his hands in Game 2. Unable to get into any kind of rhythm in limited minutes, Ross spent the two days in between games watching film and having the coaching staff stress the importance of defensive rotations. Getting to the right spot at the right time will reduce the potential for picking up ticky-tack fouls.
Guarding the 3-point line: Going into this series, defending the three-point line was a point of emphasis for the Raptors. In Game 1, despite their victory, the Nets finished 4-for-24 from beyond the arc. Brooklyn’s bench was a combined 0-for-12 from beyond the arc. It seems unlikely that this will continue in Game 2, but the Raptors needs to do their best to limit the Nets from outside.
“More opportunities we had to score and we didn’t. We shot 39 percent. Some of the shots we normally make, we missed. They were playing aggressive defence, they were in us, it was physical and we still got some good looks and we’ve got to make those. The other thing that surprised me are our turnovers. Our turnovers were dribble off our foot, one dribble off our foot. Some things we don’t normally do. Passing to a guy that’s not looking at you. Those things let me know we were a little anxious, which is good. It means they care, it wasn’t from a lack of hustle, hard play or anything like that. Just anxious probably is the word.” – Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on what surprised him after watching film from Game 1
“You know what, to me, it’s fun. I’m an underdog guy, so I’ve got to prove myself every day. I wake up with a 220,000-pound thing on my shoulder, so I’ve got to be able to find a way to walk and get to my job. It’s fun when you face Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, KG. I mean, I grew up watching those guys, especially Paul Pierce. Now I got a chance to beat ‘em? To me, I can’t ask for anything better than that. It’s fun. It’s a basketball game, man, at the end of the day we’ve all got two hands. We all can shoot. We’ve got one of the best point guards, too. I’ll take our chances, man.” – Greivis Vasquez on facing off against future HOFers on the Nets roster
“I understand they’re going to come out no matter what play we run, they’re going to come out tough on me, try to take me out of the game. I just have to realize that, try to do other things than I normally do. Get easy buckets, instead of trying to go out there and settle for jump shots early. Just start off easy, get a couple of easy buckets and go from there.” – DeMar DeRozan on his offensive approach for Game 2
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 87, Nets 94 – Apr. 19th, 2013