The Toronto Raptors haven’t won a road playoff game since 2001, so as history should show, there’s no indication that this should’ve been an easy game against the Brooklyn Nets. With the series tied after pulling through a gutty effort at home to take game two, Toronto knew they were in for another hard fought game against a very good home-court team. The most glaring issue with the Raptors was their inability to take care of the basketball, and unfortunately the trend continued tonight. Toronto was lead again by the effort of DeMar DeRozan who became the first player in Raptors’ history to have back-to-back 30 point games in the playoffs. He also added 5 assists and 5 rebounds while getting to the line 15 times. The Raptors were down 15 early in the fourth quarter, so the fact that they were able to put themselves in position to tie up the game with 30 seconds left is truly remarkable. Only problem is; this is the playoffs. No moral victories here. Win or go home.
The Raptors started the game out appearing controlled and composed effort against what was supposed to be a hostile Brooklyn crowd. Toronto missed some easy looks as a result of some bad rolls. The concentrated effort showed with the raptors passing up perimeter looks for paint penetration. The Raptors lead after the first quarter and still had 4 turnovers however Brooklyn failed to capitalize during the early stages of the game. DeMar DeRozan is clearly ready for the moment as he’s taken notice and stepped up to the challenge on both ends of the court. His nerves are gone and you can only expect his focus to be even more turned up as the Raptors keep playing.
Someone who couldnt get a break tonight was Raptors centre Jonas Valanciunas who was at the mercy of the referees whistles tonight. Its seemed as if every whistle blown in the vicinity of the big man was directed at him. Luckily, Dwane Casey went to Tyler Hansbrough tonight to fill JV’s void; and he was performing valiantly until this.
The offence for Toronto was filled with a lot of isolation basketball, as the Raptos had more turnovers than assists which is absolutely unacceptable. The Raptors played attrociously after the first quarter up until around 5 minutes left in the game. The third quarter was borderline unwatchable as Brooklyn padded their lead with easy looks and stifling defence holding the Raptors to 38.7% shooting in the 3rd quarter.
The 4th quarter had the Raps playing with all sorts of desperation as they were down big. Although their defecit was large, the team didn’t look too phased as they’ve been counted out many times before. The Raptors chipped away with concentrated efforts towards the rim. Free throws would ultimately be Toronto’s downfall this evening as they were presented with multiple opportunities to close the gap. Prior to Patmans’ missed freebies, DeMar and JV both split a pair of free throws which would’ve had them in a one possession game with about a minute to go. Patrick Patterson played great all night, and was a large reason the Raptors were in the game down the stretch.It just really sucks he went 0 for 2 when his team needed it most.
The Nets started the game out shooting 5/7 from the field. The crowd was quite underwhelming to be honest, but the Nets players appeared a lot more comfortable in front of their home fans. With all of that going on the Toronto defense was still pretty sound and tuned in.
The refs missed call after call in favor of the Nets, so it was hard for the Raptors to find some sort of consistency on the defensive end of the court. This proved especially problematic as Toronto just seemed to be a little eager; overcommiting on their coverage’s for most of the night. The Raptors allowed Brooklyn to shoot almost 50% for the game, but it was during that 3rd quarter where they allowed them 57.9% that allowed Brooklyn to take command of this game. This game turned into a matter of skill versus hard work, as Brooklyn was able to capitalize on some very tough moves to get some big buckets.
The Raptors failed to put up resistance against the likes of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson who torched the Raptors all night long. Deron starting the game with back-to-back three pointers was the first warning sign of a long night for the Raptors. Deron was able to finsh tonights game against the Raps with 22points and 8 assists shooting 7 for 14 from the field.
The Raptors managed to out-rebounded the Nets 35-29 tonight however it wasn’t like the dominating effort that we saw in game 2. The Nets took last game to heart as they buckled down and hit the glass. The game appeared a lot more controlled as a result of both teams hitting the glass on an equal level. The Nets were able to match Toronto’s physicality. The whistles didn’t help as the Raptors weren’t allowed to fight for the ball apparently. Jonas had another double-double finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Shaun Livingston lead the Nets on the glass with 6.
Game Ball: Joe Johnson
Hate to do it. So let’s keep it brief. Joe Cool finished with 29 points on 11 for 17 shooting. 3 out of 4 three pointers.
I’m tied of seeing his floater in the paint. He never misses it.
I don’t wanna talk about it.
GAME 4 SUNDAY