After a near collapse in game five, the Toronto Raptors will need to refocus as they head to Brooklyn in hopes of eliminating the Nets in game six. For Brooklyn, they will be taking pride in the fact that they rallied back from a 26 point deficit and tied the game late on Wednesday night.
The Raptors completely dominated the Nets through three quarters in game five, but were outscored by 20 in the final quarter as they allowed 44 points by the Nets. The Raptors had one of the best fourth quarter differentials in the league during the regular season, and they will need to get back to that standard if they want to take out the Nets in game six.
The Raptors will head into game six riding a two game win streak and one of the main reasons for their recent success has been ball control. After committing 59 turnovers in the first three games of the series, the Raptors committed just 25 turnovers in games four and five combined.
If the Raptors stay settled down on the offensive end and move the ball efficiently, they will be able to control the pace of the game and have good chance at coming up with a road victory in game six. Two of the main ball handlers for the Raptors are Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, both of which have stepped up in the playoffs.
In the past two games the starting backcourt for the Raptors has combined for 105 points, including 59 in their game five victory. In a series clinching scenario, the Raptors will need the leadership of Kyle Lowry DeMar DeRozan to guide them through a hard-fought battle in Brooklyn.
For Brooklyn, they will be playing for their playoff lives on Friday, but that is a familiar position for many players on the Nets roster. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams all know what it means to face elimination in the playoffs, and they know what will need to be done to extend the series.
The Nets struggled from the three-point line in game five as they finished just 4 of 20 from beyond the arc. They will need to find the range from downtown to properly space the floor and allow their offense to flow.
While the Nets did dig their way out of a 26 point hole in game six, they will most definitely be looking for a better start in game six, especially at home. The Nets home crowd has been criticized for not being as involved as the fans in Toronto, but if Brooklyn gets out to a fast start in game six, Nets fans will have a chance to outdo the fans of the Northern Uprising.
Big games call for the services of big time players. With their season on the line, the Nets will be looking to their closers to keep their playoff hopes alive. Paul Pierce and Johnson live for pressurized moments, and there is no scenario with more pressure attached to it than an elimination game in the NBA playoffs.
Even when a team holds a 26 point lead, these games are ultimately decided in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Game six is sure to be another physical battle, but the key to the game for both teams is simple, who wants it more
Commentary By Eric Kummel