Before I dive into this post-game report, I’ll link a soothing/uplifting Drake song to put your mind at ease after tonight’s wild game:
The Toronto Raptors played with the hearts of millions tonight, They totally blew a 26-point lead and suffered an embarrassing collapse in the final quarter of play. But somehow, someway, they pulled off a satisfying (?) 115-113 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Toronto is now just one win away from sealing the series and moving on to the semi-finals for the second time in franchise history. The hero for the good guys was none other than Kyle Lowry, who contributed six assists and a playoff career-high 36 points. Lowry was a source of instant offense the entire game, shooting a blistering 6-9 from three-point range (including a buzzer beating bank shot before halftime) and 3-6 from the field. DeMar DeRozan poured in 23 points and secured the game with clutch free-throw shooting in the final seconds. On the losing side, veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were held to a combined 14 points and saw zero playing time in the fourth quarter. The man in charge for Brooklyn was “fake All-Star” Joe Johnson, who scored 30 points (18 of which came in the third quarter). Toronto can rest easy tonight, but their biggest game of the season comes Friday in Brooklyn. With an entire nation behind them, this team can eliminate their most despised rivals on their own homecourt. Here’s the report card for Game Five:
The first three quarters were a dream, offensively. It was a wonderful period of accurate three-point shooting and good looks in the paint. Lowry, DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas scored in volumes and the Raps opened up a 26 point lead in the third frame. Before the final quarter, Toronto held a dominant 91-69 lead over Brooklyn. Unfortunately, Jason Kidd implemented a tough defensive scheme for the last 12 minutes of play, and Toronto was held to 24 points on 37.5% field goal shooting. While these numbers aren’t too alarming, you have to consider the fact that Brooklyn scored 44 points on 61.9% shooting during this time. Attribute this late-game collapse to stellar opponent defense and exhaustion. In the future, the Raptors cannot get too comfortable with any lead. You have to maintain the same offensive energy for all 48 minutes and treat every possession with a sense of urgency.
Again, the first three quarters were defensively sound. At halftime, the Nets were held to 40% shooting from the field. Johnson got into foul trouble early, and Deron Williams struggled to find a rhythm offensively. By the third quarter Johnson found his stroke and went on a scoring burst, but the rest of the team did little to help the cause. It was Toronto’s unusual fourth-quarter breakdown which allowed Brooklyn to come back and tie the game at 101 apiece. They allowed the Nets to shoot 13-21 from the field and 5-9 from beyond the arc. Incredibly, Brooklyn managed to convert three four-point plays in the fourth quarter alone, all of which were timely and infuriating. Former Raptor Alan Anderson is credited with one of those plays, so there’s another reason to dislike him. As a whole the Raps gave a great defensive effort for 75% of the game, and were atrocious for the remaining 25%.
Whether they know it or not, Raptor fans played a huge role in the defensive game tonight. Both inside the ACC and outside in the square, they defended home court to the best of their ability. As suspected, fans were excessively supportive and loud at all the right times, particularly when Andray Blatche went 1-2 from the line with five seconds left. The turning point of the game occurred when fans started chanting “BROOOOOKLYNN”, taunting their opponents all the way back to New York. This whole “We The North” campaign is gaining traction and Toronto fans are making waves in the league. Proof? Check out this tweet from BROOKLYN’s account concerning the disparity in atmospheres of this series:
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 1, 2014
The Raptors won the rebounding battle 37-34 tonight. Patrick Patterson led his team with eight boards, while DeRozan, Valanciunas and Amir Johnson pulled down six each. As noted in our pre-game coverage, rebounding is the key to winning games. This is almost common sense. Toronto did a great job of hitting the glass and fighting for the boards on both ends of the floor. Also worth noting: Garnett and big man Mason Plumlee combined for just five rebounds. This is a testament to the strong box-outs and relentless interior mindset put forth from Toronto’s bigs.
Game Ball: Kyle Lowry
This win would not be possible without Lowry. No question about it. The phenomenal guard came through for his team all game long, providing clutch shooting and smart ball distribution. He is definitely the MVP of Toronto this season, and should probably consider running for mayor. I mean, who wouldn’t vote for this guy?