The Toronto Raptors came into their game two Tuesday night tilt with the Brooklyn Nets hoping to pull even in their NBA playoff series. The Raptors overcame another slow start in game two to take a 45-39 lead heading into the half.
Despite committing eleven turnovers in the first half, the Raptors were able to take a six-point lead into the break thanks to 37.5 percent shooting by the Nets. Much like game one, this one came down to the final few minutes in the fourth quarter.
Paul Pierce, who scored just 1 point in the first three quarters, came up big for the Nets in the fourth. Pierce scored 6 points in the final few minutes in the fourth quarter to bring the Nets within two points of the Raptors. After a turnover by the Raptors, Pierce had a chance from beyond the arc to give the Nets the lead, but came up short.
This time the Raptors had an answer for Pierce’s scoring in the fourth quarter. After shooting just 3-13 in game one, DeMar DeRozan helped carry the Raptors to a game two victory. While he struggled through the first three quarters, DeRozan came up huge when it mattered most. DeRozan scored 17 points in the final frame, including two free throws with 7.4 seconds left that secured the 100-95 victory for Toronto.
DeRozan finished with 30 points on 9 of 21 shooting and made 12 of his 14 free throws. While Toronto did escape with a win, the story of this game and the series for the Raptors has been turnovers.
In game one Toronto committed 19 turnovers to the Nets nine. Turnovers were and will continue to be an area of concern for Dwane Casey and the Raptors coaching staff, as Toronto committed 21 turnovers in game 2, and have a combined 40 turnovers in their first two playoff games. If the Raptors are to win on the road in Brooklyn, they will certainly need to clean that up.
As for the Nets, they committed only 10 turnovers in game two, and that is something they will want continue to do at home. As a team, the Nets shot just 71.4 percent from the charity stripe, leaving eight points on the line. Mason Plumlee was 2 of 6 from the line, and this may be a recurring strategy by the Raptors in game three.
If the Nets are to retake the series lead at home, they will need Paul Pierce to be more aggressive. While Pierce did come up with some big buckets in the fourth quarter, he settled for outside jump shots for much of the game.
Pierce finished 0 of 6 from the beyond the arc and only attempted four free throws. The Nets will need The Truth to drive to the rack in game three if they want to come away with a victory. For the Raptors, the key player heading into game three will be Terrence Ross.
Ross had another quiet night in game two, as he scored just two points on 1 of 8 shooting and finished 0 of 5 from the three-point line. Ross has shown that he has the capability to take over a game offensively, and on the road the Raptors will need all the offensive contributions they can get against the tenacious Brooklyn defense.
These two Eastern Conference squads have now played two extremely physical and competitive games. Expect the games to start getting a little bit more chippy as the scenery switches to Brooklyn. It does not look like either team is ready to make their exit from the playoffs just yet.
Commentary By Eric Kummel