The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets took part in what was one of five game seven’s over the weekend in the NBA playoffs. Both franchises came into Sunday having never won a game seven. Behind a pre game guarantee from Andray Blatche, it was the Nets who earned their franchises first ever game seven victory.
Nearly ten thousand fans gathered outside the Air Canada Center to cheer on Toronto, and it was the Raptors who took a slim 28-26 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Brooklyn found their range from outside, as they scored 35 points and led 61-53 heading into the break.
Marcus Thornton provided a spark for the Nets off the bench, as he scored 14 points in the half. Despite being in foul trouble for much of the half, Amir Johnson led the Raptors in scoring at the half with 14 of his own.
The two teams stalemated in the third and the Nets took a 81-73 lead to the final frame. It just wouldn’t be a game between the Nets and Raptors without it coming down to the final few seconds.
With the Raptors trailing by 104-103 with under 10 seconds to play, Terrence Ross came up with the huge steal to give the Raptors a chance at advancing to the second round for the second time in franchise history.
The ball was in the hands of Kyle Lowry for the final shot, but Paul Pierce came up with the series clinching block for the Nets, as the Nets took game seven 104-103. Brooklyn will play the Miami Heat in round two, who they swept in the regular season.
Joe Johnson was clutch as usual for the Nets, as he scored 13 of his team high 26 points in the fourth quarter. The Nets and Raptors played in one of the most competitive opening round series in recent memory. After playing seven games against one another the Raptors and Nets matched each other point for point, literally.
Through seven games the two teams scored the exact same amount of points, it doesn’t get much closer than that. Despite not connecting on his final shot in game seven, Lowry finished the game with a game high 28 points, and was one of the main reasons the Raptors had such a successful season.
The Raptors will be hoping that this season’s success is only the beginning, and they will be looking to learn from this heartbreaking defeat. For the Nets, their work will be cut out for them heading into round two.
Although they did sweep the two-time defending champion Miami Heat in the regular season, the playoffs are a completely different animal. After sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats in their opening round series, the Heat appear to be back at their championship level.
Brooklyn is an older team and will head into the second round after playing in a physically draining seven-game series. The Miami Heat on the other hand, have not played in over a week and have had time to rest Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Brooklyn will need to take their game to another level if they want to derail the Heat’s quest for a three-peat. Expect LeBron and company to come out flying after their week long hibernation.
Commentary By Eric Kummel