Nets’ experience takes home-court advantage from Raptors

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com


VIDEO: Nets vs. Raptors: Game 1

TORONTO – The Brooklyn Nets just don’t care.

They don’t care about Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri saying “F— Brooklyn!” at a pep rally before Game 1 of their first-round series.

“I don’t even know who the GM is,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said when asked about it.

They don’t care about the raucous crowd at the Air Canada Centre.

“I really feed off the emotions of the crowd, especially on the road,” Paul Pierce said after scoring nine straight points to put the game away. “It’s fun when you go on the road and [win]. I think it’s more gratifying that winning at home.”

And they don’t care about how inconsistently they played in the regular season, because the switch has been flipped.

“We’re locked in,” Pierce added. “It’s the playoffs. We understand the moment.”

The Nets came to this series with experience (about 10 times as much postseason mileage as their opponent), while the Raptors had home-court advantage. After a 94-87 victory on Saturday, Brooklyn has both.

The experience showed in the fourth-quarter execution. Down one with five minutes left, the Nets went on a 13-5 run, getting two points each from Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett before Pierce went on his run. He capped it with a vintage, back-his-man-down-to-the-elbow, turnaround jumper.

As he went to bench afterward, he told the crowd, “That’s why I’m here.”

Some shots go in and some don’t, but all six of the late buckets from the vets showed poise in the face of solid defense. On the other end of the floor, Toronto struggled to get good looks. After Brooklyn took back the lead, the Raptors were forced to rush shots late in the clock on three of their next five possessions.

Two of the Raptors’ starters with no playoff experience – DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross – shot a combined 4-for-17, dealing with early foul trouble and never getting on track.

“I thought we played a little bit as expected,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “It is our first playoff game.”

The Nets’ defense played a role in the Raptors’ struggles, closing off the middle of the floor and forcing Toronto into 19 turnovers and just 17-for-37 shooting in the paint.

In fact, until Brooklyn made its late run, both teams were scoring less than a point per possession. After making three of their first four 3-pointers, the Nets missed 19 straight. But their defense was good enough to let their experience take over down the stretch.

“You’ve been in those situations a number of times,” Pierce said. “I don’t get rattled in the fourth quarters, down the stretch of playoff settings.

“I just try to stay calm, bring my calmness to the game, and just try to influence the rest of the guys.”

Maybe Kidd was trolling Ujiri with feigned ignorance. Maybe Pierce was trolling the crowd with his post-dagger swagger. And maybe the Nets are better than a No. 6 seed with a 44-38 record.

After all, Pierce was the third option on most of those plays down the stretch, getting the ball on the weak side after Deron Williams and Johnson ran a pick-and-roll.

“I thought it was part of great execution,” Pierce said. “They took away our first and second option and I was able to fill in as a third option and make some plays.”

A guy with a championship ring and 136 games of postseason experience isn’t a bad third option to have.

20 Comments

  1. DukeBlueDevils says:

    What you smoking, Eskimo Jack? He thinks the Raptors are arrogant. A “very strong and experienced team like the Nets”. Uh huh. I will give you the “experienced” part…but “strong”? Uh huh. Is that why they tanked so they wouldn’t face Chicago? You yap too much about Toronto being a bad team, yet your tanking team wanted to play them so badly. Strength is about not running away from challenges. BKN ran as soon as they knew CHI was permanently the 4th seed. Really? Getting blown out by CLE is strong? Hahaha. No, its called tanking.

    And please, don’t make it look as if the Raptors should appreciate playing against BKN. It’s BKN wanted them. TOR could care less. They are the 3rd seed, and who they faced was not in their control. Unless of course if they did what BKN did and tanked their games to drop from their 3rd seed standing.

  2. Eskimo Jack says:

    Every bad team that losses, is expected to use the referees as their excuse. Toronto as a team and professional organization and their fans should know who their opponent is and appreciate the chance given them to play a very strong and experienced team like the Nets. Arrogance is a weakness when you’re facing a strong challenger. D. Ross wished for it, now he seem not to have the guts to back up his words. Wake up Raptors, feel great you’re in the playoff. Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.

  3. Mauro says:

    Brooklyin lost on purpose laste games of regulars season to match up against Toronto instead of more experienced Bulls…what would you expect from someone that spills drinks on the floor to call plays when out of timeouts…? :-) ……Jason Kidd is a Crook

  4. sid says:

    After watching this game from start to finish, it really supports all the claims tim donaghy had to say about the officiating in this league, its very clear that the raptors will be facing not only the strong capable Brooklyn nets but the officials too, The league wants to see Brooklyn and Miami in the second round and wont allow Toronto to win this series, the NBA after all is a business.

  5. DukeBlueDevils says:

    The NBA is always biased against the Raptors. Always the same story with the referees not calling the game fair for the Raptors. Sad part is that Adam Silver was at the game in Toronto. The NBA will pretend to make this a 6 game series, just to get all the ticket revenue it can from a sold out Air Canada Centre, but eventually their bias and apathy for Toronto will manifest itself and BKN will be guaranteed a series win,

  6. TheKush says:

    Everybody knew the Raptors were going to lose game one. I think this was a good loss for them to make them realize who they’re playing. The problem the Raptors will have his size. The Raptors 2 best players DeRozan and Lowry are perfect match ups for brooklyn who can throw multiple guys at those two. How the raptors can win this game is threw bench play. If I were coaching the raptors I would play Steve Novak in series. Especially if I had Lowry and DeRozan on the floor. This would stretch the floor out allowing those two to go one on one. >>>BALL MOVEMENT <<< This is a series where Novak would make a huge difference because the raptors are a good three point shooting team they want to make the old legs of the Brooklyn Nets works. If the raptors can stuck in a half court style game swing the ball tire the Nets out and along with that RUN, RUN, RUN! If the raptors don't shoot the ball well this series will be a short one! If I don't see changes in by the raptors in game 2 I got the Nets in 5!

  7. RAPTORS FAN says:

    I’m tired of hearing all of those excuses, our first playoff game.. It’s BASKETBALL, the same game you’ve been playing for the past 82 this season… DeRozan is a choker, I really hope he gets traded in the offseason while we can still get something good for him… And Salmons has no business on that court… I’m a big fan and I love this team and I will support it even if it gets swept, but all of these excuses are what make us lose games…

  8. iamironman says:

    Nets gave up the #5 seed to face Miami in the 2nd round. They just want to play Miami ASAP. And I think they would’ve also gone down to #7 seed just to do it. Back to the game, The Raptors clearly had the winning record but didn’t show up for it. Bias officiating can only get you so far and if the Raps get their run and gun, high flying offense from DeRozan, Nets won’t catch up,

  9. Kome the Black Dumba says:

    heh, 0 foul on 4 quarter on the nets. So much on experience.

  10. lbj says:

    beating the lowly raptors will not win you rings. evacuate brooklyn and play under our great king. you are guaranteed to win multiple (6} titles kg, truth, dwill and jj. not you plumlee.

  11. jdub455 says:

    well, experience they say is the best teacher,,, must win for the raps in game2… this series depends on that game… if they lose again, then the Heat wont have much rest coming to the 2nd rd.

  12. john says:

    That was an ugly game to watch. The raptors clearly looked nervous and turned the ball over way too many times. But, the officiating was atrociously one sided. KG smashes JV on the head no call, its called a block. KG gets clearly rejected by Jonas on other end its a foul… Demon Williams flops on a phantom elbow which clearly never even touched him. Watching as a neutral NBA fan the favouritism was blatant! I would hate to be a raptors fan. Heres hoping that the raptors get a fair called series, because it would be a shame to have biased officiating because of the youth if this team and the fact they playing Canada

    • FANS says:

      Dwill did get hit on that play. you not seeing that makes me think that you didnt watch the replay.

      • willscott says:

        Are you stupid or just blind. I watched the replay 10 times and Lowry’s elbow did not touch Williams. But D-Fake flops to the ground and fakes an injury. No contact at all and he goes down faster than Jason Kidd’s wife after one of his beatings.

    • kweku says:

      will scott the stupid one here is you. dumb twat go and watch it again from all angles, u biased fool.

  13. okc2014 says:

    Wow! That was a good game!

  14. zaki says:

    I was at the game, Raptors loss was expected as most of the guys never had much of a play off experience- the atmosphere is different and the players know that the pressure is 10x more… Nets played a better game. However, there was the issue of the refs making some bad calls and KG pushing KL and PP faking that one foul. Nevertheless, Toronto should have had done a better job going the basket, and should have played a fast-paced game with the nets… Expecting TR and MD to turn things around and for the Raptors to be successful these two need to have better production in game 2.

  15. matt says:

    its not just a “pep rally”

    fans are outside watching the ENTIRE GAME. from start to finish.

  16. Ryan says:

    Meet Kevin Garnett of the New Jersey Nets; a member in good standing of the cleanest team in the NBA which commits 0 fouls in the 4th quarter. Praise be to superstar-reputation NBA officiating.

  17. asdf says:

    Of course Nets are better than a regular 6. seed team. They were struggling early in the season, but flipped the switch after NYE and have one of the best records in the league this year, so, even though I support Toronto in this series, they came into the series as the favorites to me.