The Brooklyn Nets (aka the Dinosaurs) used experience (or elderly-ness) and excellent late-game play to get by the Toronto Raptors in Game 1. Along with stealing the first game of the series, they also stole homecourt advantage and perhaps any, and all, confidence that the Raptors had developed over the course of the regular season.
And here we are — pretty much where most expected this series to be. The Raptors need to win Game 2, not only to tie up the series and avert the disaster of falling into a 0-2 hole heading to Brooklyn, but to also win some respect back from the general public. Honestly, most NBA fans didn’t know much about the Raptors prior to Game 1. After Game 1, they now know that Toronto has a faltering shot clock, weak physique and a bad-mouth General Manager — not much more than that. Oh yea. And that Drake is a clown.
With that said, here is a three point preview to tonight’s Nets-Raptors Game 2 — which has essentially turned into a must-win for the Raptors.
WILL DEMAR DEROZAN SHOW UP TONIGHT?
In Game 1, DeMar DeRozan was loudly ineffective. He didn’t make his first field goal until late in the second half, and shot 3-for-13 (0-4 3-pt) on the night. He did score 14 points, but eight of them came off free throws. Still, DeRozan is averaging 23 points per game this season, and in the playoffs the team’s leading scorer can’t be a no-show. Well, he can but you won’t win much, if at all.
WHO WILL WIN THE TURNOVERS GAME?
In the regular season, the Raptors averaged 14 turnovers per game against the Brooklyn Nets. They turned it over 19 times in Game 1. To make matters worse, the Raptors only forced the Nets into eight. Losing the turnover battle at home isn’t ideal — and doesn’t usually translate into success. Toronto needs to win many of the matchups and head-to-head individual statistics, however, one of the most important deciding factors of Game 2 will involve the Raptors ability (or inability) to force Brooklyn into mistakes. Specifically, turnovers.
WHO WILL OFFSET PAUL PIERCE IN LATE-GAME SITUATIONS?
Let’s just say that the game is tight with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. For Brooklyn, we know who’s getting the ball — Paul Pierce. However, for the Raptors it’s not that easy. Ideally, Kyle Lowry would handle but who takes the shot? DeRozan? That’s what Toronto needs to figure out tonight. Someone needs to offset Pierce. And while it’s almost impossible to match his cold-blooded late-game reputation, it has to be done if the Raptors want to take the next step in their progression.
So again, I ask you, Dinosaurs or Raptors?