The Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors by a score of 94-87 Saturday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre to take a 1-0 lead in their first round series. >> Read the full recap and box score at SNY.tv.
Need to Know: Deron Williams scored 24 points (8-of-20 from the field) with three assists and a rebound.
Joe Johnson added 24 (7-of-9) of his own with eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 44 minutes.
Brooklyn turned the ball over just three times in the first half, but 19 times overall, while forcing Toronto into 24 giveaways.
There was a 10 minute delay in the third quarter due to a malfunctioning shot clock. Toronto’s PA announcer was forced to give shot clock updates.
Quite a chippy first half that saw both Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche charged with technicals, though KG’s was much more questionable than Blatche’s. If Game 1 is an indication, this is going to be a very intense series with two teams that don’t have much love lost for one another…Man, Garnett couldn’t buy a bucket from the field, and even struggled from the line. If Brooklyn can get any kind of offensive production out of their big man the rest of the series, they’ll be very dangerous…In fairness, maybe Masai Ujiri was talking about Brooklyn Decker?…Kidd looked composed and in control in his first playoff game on the bench. I came away very impressed, and confident that — when it comes to crunch time and potential future series — he’ll be able to keep up with the veteran coaches in the league.
What’s Next: The Nets and Raptors will play Game 2 in Toronto on Tuesday at 7:30 PM. The game can be seen locally on YES and nationally on NBATV.
The Good: The Nets have won their only prior playoff match up with the Raptors, which came back in 2007. Brooklyn (then New Jersey) won in six games…In the Nets’ last meeting with Toronto (a 101-97 win), Paul Pierce scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and Joe Johnson added 14…Over the course of franchise history, the Raptors are just 1-5 in the opening games of playoff series.
The Bad: DeMar DeRozan (three games) and Kyle Lowry (four games) averaged 22.3 and 22.0 points, respectively, against the Nets this season…Amir Johnson finished the season ranked fifth in the NBA with a .56.2 (344-for-612) field goal shooting percentage…The Nets and Raptors committed 62 turnovers a piece (15.5 per game) in the four regular season meetings.
Forget everything you know about the 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets. The acquisitions that kicked off the summer, the abysmal start, the unconscious level they played at in the new year, and the disjointed skeleton crew they put out for the season’s final games. It’s time to wipe the slate clean, and it starts in a matter of hours.
For this Nets team, Saturday afternoon begins a quest to write a legacy. For Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, veterans without a ring, it’s time to prove that they can take their team – this Brooklyn team, of which they were the original centerpieces — to the promised land. For veterans like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, it’s an opportunity to write a new chapter, one that doesn’t include the TD Garden and the storied Celtics franchise. Will Andray Blatche grab the ultimate redemption? Can Andrei Kirilenko finally be among the last men standing? Will Mason Plumlee continue to develop on the biggest stage of them all?
These questions and more toil around the minds of Nets fans everywhere, as an upstart Raptors team looks to derail these aspirations before they even get off the ground. The Toronto Sun has some thoughts about it (see today’s front cover, pictured, h/t to John Paolantonio) and Toronto certainly seem to be fired up to take on Brooklyn. But will it matter? Will the Nets’ experience render any chip the Raptors have on their shoulder moot?
We’ll begin to have our answers today, and how this series plays out could define Nets basketball for years. There’s a very small window of opportunity here, and a first round exit could be all the excuse Billy King would need to tear this all down. But, if the Nets can step up, take down Toronto, and sail towards their eventual second round opponent (most likely, the Heat), it could lead to a new era in New York basketball. A time where Brooklyn stands on top, and the league’s premiere franchise is simply the other team in town.
Get ready, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Long Island, and everywhere beyond and in between. Here come your Nets. Can you see them? Their time is now.
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GEICO SportsNite hears from Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams at Nets practice as the team prepares for Game 1 against the Raptors.
Yes, Toronto is young, and Brooklyn… not as much. The Raptors outlasted the Nets for the Atlantic division, and
they gave Brooklyn four of their toughest match ups of the season. But when the lights are the brightest, I think this Nets team will come into its own.
The acquisitions the Nets made in the offseason have made a second consecutive, first round ousting unacceptable. I believe that will motivate this group to advance. To me, the key to this series is the turnover game. Brooklyn has to force Toronto into coughing up the ball to balance out the rebounding inefficiencies the Nets have, and that starts with putting pressure on Toronto’s young backcourt. As long as Brooklyn escapes Toronto with a split, they’ll pull away in the middle games and advance for the first time since the New Jersey days.
Nets in six.
Josh Newman, Field Reporter
A lot is going to be made about the Raptors backcourt and the speed factor, and rightfully so. But experience is going to play a large role in the outcome of this series. All of those offseason acquisitions, specifically the massive draft night deal that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, were for this very reason. Many times, a Game 7, regardless of the venue, comes down to experience and the Nets have a lot more in this match up.
Nets in seven.
Moke Hamilton, NBA Analyst
Despite having home court advantage, I’m picking the Nets, though I do so with trepidation and uncertainty. At the end of the day, I expect the collective experience to help Brooklyn prevail. The Nets became the Eastern Conference’s best team once the calendar flipped to 2014 and the emergence of Shaun Livingston, Mason Plumlee and Alan Anderson have made them one of the league’s deepest, as well. And even though Pierce, Garnett, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Andrei Kirilenko have never played in a playoff series together, they have each had significant playoff success over their long, storied careers, the same cannot be said for the Raptors.
Aside from health, what the Nets really need Deron Williams to match the output of Kyle Lowry. On the interior, Garnett and Plumlee will need to match the hustle and muscle of Amir Johnson and one of the league’s more underrated young big men in Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors are certainly capable of winning this series, but based on who the Nets have become over the past few months, their depth and their experience advantage, I’m thinking that the Nets will get their crack at the Heat come Round 2.
Nets in six.
Jon Presser, Contributor
Just like Brooklyn, Toronto has played great ball over the last few months, and with the Raptors holding home court for this series, I think it’ll be an entertaining series that goes the full seven games. The Nets need Garnett healthy, as Valanciunas had a tremendous season inside for the Raptors. Having the veteran big man healthy gives the Nets another element in the versatile attack, while Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche could give them some offensive presence in the paint as well. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan can score, but if the Nets can continue their defensive pace, (9.6 steals per game and 16.7 turnovers forced per game since January 1
), they should be able to keep the Raptors offense in check and come away with a series victory. The last thing the Nets can afford to do is look ahead to the second round and let this series slip away, but with this veteran group, I doubt that’ll happen.
Nets in seven.
Josh Newman, Field Reporter
In the wake of a seven-game first-round playoff series loss to the Chicago Bulls last spring, it really wasn’t a secret what Billy King set out to do as the offseason began.
With a series of seemingly blank checks, the Nets’ general manager went out and made his team older, complete with a large amount of veteran-savvy and a little championship experience mixed in.
A 44-win regular season had its fair share of peaks and valleys. The low point was a 10-21 start, while the high point could easily be identified as much of the next three months as the Nets circled the wagons to close 34-17.
They may not have looked like the championship contender King set out to produce, but at the very least, they began to resemble what could be described as a very tough out, especially at Barclays Center.
With the sixth-seeded Nets set to open the postseason on Saturday afternoon at the third-seeded and Atlantic Division-champion Toronto Raptors, we’re going to see whether or not King’s vision of a title-contender will come to fruition.
“We lost early, we struggled early and that’s what made everybody sort of look at themselves,” Kevin Garnett said after practice on Friday afternoon at PNY Center. “We stayed together at that point and we understood what we had to do, and that’s coming together. That kind of helped us jell the hard way, lessons were taught the hard way, but they’re still lessons.”
“I thought we withstood that, we gathered ourselves, believed in the system, never doubted the system and kept going.”
This Raptors-Nets series has several intriguing story lines, one of which is the fact that while the Nets an abundance of playoff experience, the Raptors have far less.
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The Nets are confident about the first round match up they pulled against the Toronto Raptors, but why? These two teams played each other extremely close, en rote to a split in the regular season series.
Stefan Bondy gave some insight Friday morning when he tweeted out the thinking inside the Nets organization.
“Feeling within Nets about regular season series vs Raptors [is you can] throw [those] two losses out the window because they happened in second game of back-to-back”
Okay, I get the thinking, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Raptors are effective perimeter shooters, can get into the paint, and have closed better this year than any team in the league. The slate has been wiped completely clean. This isn’t going to be a cake walk just because the two losses were on the end of back-to-backs.
With the way they rebound, the Nets’ defense will have to be at their best all postseason. Getting hands in the passing lanes, handling their switches, and forcing their opponents into mistakes will all be key if they want to make a long run. And with a possible match up with Miami looming in round two, Brooklyn will have to try and come away as unscathed as possible against Toronto. It won’t be easy.
– made for SNY Nets by Mike King
They’re fired up North of the Border, and not just because advanced stats finally caught up with the Maple Leafs.
Over at Raptors Republic, Garrett Hinchey is gearing up for the Nets/Raptors series, and he has some choice words for Brooklyn:
“I’ve never cheered for a team that another team was actively, obviously tanking to secure a playoff matchup with before. And I’ve got to admit, it makes me mad, as much as it makes sense for that team objectively. Seriously, Brooklyn? Not playing any of your starters? Playing a guy named “Jorge Gutierrez” 33 minutes, and Jason Collins 39? Getting crushed by CLEVELAND, of all teams? F*ck the Nets. F*ck the stupid Brooklyn Knight. Drake > Jay Z. Leiweke > Prokhorov, and Rookie Vince > New Jersey sell-out Vince. Bring it on. In the immortal, voice-crackey words of Brock Lesnar, I will see you, ON SUNDAY (Saturday, but the point stands).”
Well then! As much as you’re always going to win me over with a WWE reference, I think Raptors fans might be going off the deep end a bit. First, Jorge Gutierrez is, in fact, his real name, so we probably don’t have to go quotes there. And the Drake/Jay Z debate…well, Drake does
have Degrassi to fall back on. I don’t remember seeing Jay Z on Gilmore Girls or Saved by the Bell, so point taken! But the Nets didn’t tank to get the Raptors. The Nets rested their regulars so they could get healthy for whomever they happened to play. If the Bulls score six more points in overtime on Wednesday, the Nets are going to Chicago, which is obviously something Brooklyn could not have controlled. Though I understand using this to fire your fan base up. I’m sure Dwane Casey might use a similar tactic to get his guys going.
I dig the passion, and I’m only really playing around with Hinchey, who does really excellent work over at Raptors Republic. But it’s obviously this “tanking” angle is going to be a bit of a narrative as the series progresses. How much that will matter remains to be seen.
Read more: Raptors Republic (Hinchey)
The Nets were ranked seventh in NBA Store merchandise sales, according to the league.
The teams that sold better than Brooklyn were the Heat, Lakers, Bulls, Thunder, Knicks, Celtics.
The Nets did not have any players in the top 15 jersey sales.
Remember, this is a franchise that actually was 31st of the 30 active NBA teams just two short years ago (yes, Seattle Supersonics gear was more popular than New Jersey Nets threads). That’s an unbelievable turnaround, and it’s been fueled by the branding of the borough and the high-profile acquisitions. The Nets have really hit a stride style-wise. The Brooklyn Blues gear seems to be selling well, and with a Dr. J alt jersey possibly in the making
, the Nets could stand to move up a few spots in the coming year.