The Toronto Raptors talked a good game the day before taking on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 6. Unfortunately, saying and thinking all of the right things didn’t translate to doing them and the Nets defeated the Raptors 97-83 at Barclays Center.
“We should’ve known they were going to come out throwing haymakers and we weren’t ready for it until the second half,” DeMar DeRozan said.
While DeRozan led the Raptors with 28 points, Kyle Lowry was held to just 11 after his 36-point explosion in Game 5. Brooklyn made it a priority to keep the ball out of his hands and not allow him open looks.
On the flip side, Deron Williams finally showed up for the Nets, scoring 23 points. Joe Johnson added 17, Kevin Garnett had 13 and Paul Pierce scored 12.
Dwane Casey knew his team would get Brooklyn’s best shot. No matter the message given going into a close-out game, it is difficult to truly prepare a young team for something they haven’t seen before. Just as Game 1 of the postseason was a learning experience, so too was Game 6.
“This series has been like a roller coaster the whole way through,” Casey said. “We started the game out in an opposite disposition than we wanted to. I thought they came out in a desperate mode and we didn’t. They did what they were supposed to do and we didn’t start to play that way until we got knocked down in the second half.”
Nets Come Out On Fire
Knowing a loss would mean the end of their season, the Nets came out on fire. Picking up where Wednesday’s 44-point fourth quarter left off, Brooklyn was the aggressor. Getting to the hoop at will, they overwhelmed the Raptors. By halftime, the Nets held a 60-41 advantage.
Toronto used a 14-2 run to cut Brooklyn’s lead to 10 with five minutes remaining, but it was too late to change what had occurred in the previous three quarters.
“They got us on our heels early,” Casey said. “ The rest of the game was at their typical pace. They did a good job of establishing the way they wanted to play early and we didn’t respond.”
When the Raptors looked frustrated, the Nets looked comfortable. With Jonas Valanciunas in early foul trouble, Brooklyn made a living in the paint and crashed the boards.
“I think the first half they had 16 buckets at the rim of their 23 buckets,” Casey continued. “That tells me we weren’t defending on the perimeter and weren’t protecting the rim so that was the story in itself.”
Pierce, the player who silenced the Air Canada Centre crowd in a Game 1 Nets victory, sounded more than okay with the return to enemy territory.
“These are the types of games that elevate good players to great players,” Pierce said. “It’s a hostile environment – win or go home. Hey, this is the type of situation that I love and want to be in. I love our chances.”
“We know it’s win or go home,” DeRozan said. “Everything is on the line now and we know we have to play from the jump ball to the end of the game.”
It would have been prudent for the team to heed that wise advice in Brooklyn for Game 6, but there are worse things than a Game 7 played in your arena.
“Experience is the best teacher,” Casey said. “Now we’re going to Game 7. It’s our first time. Luckily we have that at home.”