The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets served as the opening act for this year’s NBA playoff spectacle. In their first playoff game since the 2007-08 season, the Raptors got off to a shaky start at home, as Brooklyn jumped out to a 25-13 lead.
The Raptors committed six turnovers in the opening quarter and trailed 29-21 after one, thanks to 11 points from Deron Williams. Williams continued to score in the first half, as he finished with 18 points at the break, and led the Nets to a 50-45 halftime lead.
The Raptors kept the game close throughout, but, in the end, the Raptors could not handle the truth. Paul Pierce knocked down three key jump shots in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to help Brooklyn hold on for a 94-87 victory. Pierce finished the game with 15 points, while Deron Williams and Joe Johnson both added 24 points for the Nets.
Another interesting story from this game, was the fact that the shot clock in the Air Canada Center malfunctioned in the third quarter, forcing the team’s to play without a shot clock. Instead, the Raptors PA announcer provided a verbal countdown for the players. Not exactly the opening act that the NBA and Adam Silver would like to start the playoffs.
Game 2 of this series will played on Tuesday night at 7:00PM EST. The main thing the Raptors will need to work on heading into that game is their ball control. The Raptors turned the ball over 19 times, while the Nets turned it over just nine times. The Raptors will also need more from their All-Star DeMar DeRozan.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry came into the playoffs as the league’s second highest scoring backcourt behind only Steph Curry and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors. While Kyle Lowry had a solid performance in Game 1 with 22 points and eight assists, DeRozan struggled in his playoff debut.
While DeRozan was a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line, he finished with just 14 points on 3-13 shooting. Well below his season average scoring of 22.7 points per game. One positive coming out of the Raptors game 1 loss, was the match up of Kevin Garnett and Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors sophomore Center nearly had a double-double in the first half, and finished the game with 17 points and a franchise playoff record 18 rebounds.
For the Nets heading into Game 2, they will be looking to continue to take advantage of the power forward match-up of Paul Pierce and Amir Johnson. Pierce’s outside shooting and drives to the rim proved to a problem for Johnson, who is used to guarding big men in the post.
Look for Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams to continue to be aggressive in game 2, as they put pressure on the Raptors perimeter defense and Terrence Ross, as Ross got into early foul trouble which forced him onto the bench for much of the game.
If the rest of the NBA’s first round playoff series match the intensity of the Raptors and Net’s opening act, then the shot clock mishap at the Air Canada Center will quickly become a distant memory in the minds of Adam Silver and NBA fans alike.
Commentary By Eric Kummel