— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) May 4, 2014
Series: Tied 3-3
After 82 regular-season games and six postseason contests against the Brooklyn Nets, everything the Toronto Raptors have worked for comes down Game 7.
With a victory, the Raptors will move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals to face the Miami Heat. With a loss, they will clean out their lockers, conduct exit interviews and go their separate ways for an offseason sooner than they’d like.
Left with a bad taste in their mouths after coming out flat on Friday night at Barclays Center, the Raptors are hoping to set the tone early on their home court.
Playing in a close-out game for the first time, this young Toronto appeared to underestimate the fight that Brooklyn would come out with to try to save its season. Aware of what’s on the line Sunday afternoon, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey believes his team will come out with the intensity needed to battle a veteran Nets team that has been here before.
What To Watch
Kyle Lowry’s Opportunities: Prior to Game 6, Lowry had thoroughly outplayed Brooklyn’s starting point guard Deron Williams. After Lowry tied a career high 36 points in a Game 5 victory, the Nets decided to make someone else beat them in Game 6. Making it difficult for Lowry to get the ball, the Raptors’ leader scored just 11 points in the loss. Expect the Nets to be extremely physical with Lowry, but also expect Lowry to be ready for it and for Toronto’s big men to get involved early on the offensive end of the floor.
Matinee Struggles: Despite plenty of Sunday afternoon games during the regular season, Toronto has often found itself slow to get started in its matinee games. Amir Johnson — an X-factor for the team in this series — has been one of the Raptors players who hasn’t responded well to the daytime games, but with everything on the line, Casey was confident all of his guys will be ready to roll when the ball goes up.
50/50 plays: While the Nets came out on fire to start Game 5, they also outhustled Toronto in the first half. Crashing the glass, getting loose balls, taking care of the basketball, and protecting the paint are all things the Raptors will need to do to avoid falling behind from the jump as they did in Game 6. After Saturday’s practice and film session, the message was simple and the same as it’s been all series: come out strong, hit first and be the aggressor.
- “I relish every situation. I relish in preseason because I get to play. Basketball is my job. And this is fun. I love it. I just love being out there, playing with my teammates, being able to be around a great fan base and organization. It’s just fun. I can’t wait. Every day I wake up, I’m smiling.” – Kyle Lowry on the opportunity to play in a Game 7
- “Rick Carlisle has a thing: ‘Wipe off the blackboard.’ Just wipe it off. Nothing on the blackboard is really going to make a difference at this time of year. At this game, Game 7, it’s mental. It’s [about] our approach. It’s our toughness. It’s our persistence on getting open. Our persistence in defending. Our persistence in going for loose balls, rebounds. That’s what this game is going to be about. We’ve got a great crowd here at home. Great fans. Home is not going to take care of you. You’ve got to take care of home.” – Dwane Casey on keeping things simple going into Sunday’s game
- “That’s what you dream about, honestly. You’re playing with everything at stake. Everything’s going to matter. Every single bucket, every single stop. Every single thing is going to matter because you’re going to see who wants it more tomorrow.” – DeMar DeRozan on dreaming about Game 7 matchups
Raptors: Kyle Lowry (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Amir Johnson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Nets: Deron Williams (G), Alan Anderson (G), Joe Johnson (F), Paul Pierce (F), Kevin Garnett (C)
Nets: Brook Lopez – fractured right foot (out)
Last Time They Met: Raptors 83, Nets 97 – May. 2nd, 2014