With the series now tied at one, the Raptors and Nets both still have plenty of work to put in if they want to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. The first two games in this series came down to the final few minutes in the fourth quarter. Expect that trend to continue in games three and four, as the series shifts to Brooklyn.
While the Raptors came away with the 100-95 victory in game two, they continued to struggle with turnovers. Due to a combination of carelessness on the offensive end, and aggression on the defensive end by the Nets, the Raptors committed 21 turnovers in game two.
Toronto has 40 turnovers in their first two postseason games this year, while the Nets have committed just 19. Toronto will need to take better care of the ball in game three, especially on the road in a hostile environment. While the Raptors have been outclassed by the Nets in the turnover department through two games, Toronto has dominated Brooklyn on the boards.
Jonas Valanciunas has proven to be an issue for the Nets in his first two career playoff games, as he has scored 32 points, while also hauling down 32 rebounds. One of the main reasons the Raptors came away with the victory in game two was second chance points. Toronto outrebounded Brooklyn 19-11 on the offensive glass, and 50-32 overall on the boards.
Much of the reason for this disparity on the boards is the fact that the Nets have been playing Paul Pierce at the power forward position. With Valanciunas and Amir Johnson, the Raptors hold the size advantage in this series, and they will need to keep controlling the glass if they want to come away with a victory on the road.
For the Brooklyn Nets, they will need to improve their outside shooting to hold on to their home court advantage. Through the first two games, the Nets have shot 11 of 48 from the beyond the three-point line. They will need to find the range from downtown to open up the paint for Paul Pierce and Deron Williams.
Look for the Nets to get out to a quick start at home in game three. It was clear that the Raptors struggled with some playoff nerves in game one as Brooklyn jumped out to a quick 25-13 lead. If the Raptors fall behind early in game three, it will be difficult for them to take the momentum away from the Nets and their roaring home crowd.
The biggest thing to look at heading into game three will be who comes through for their team in crunch time. Both games have been decided by single digits, with the outcome of the game up in the air until the final few moments in the fourth. In game one, it was Paul Pierce knocking down three key jump shots to lock up the victory for the Nets.
In game two, the script was reversed as DeMar DeRozan scored 17 of his 30 points in the final quarter to tie the series at one. So who will come up in the clutch for their teams as the series moves forward? It is possible that Pierce and DeRozan have repeat performances, but both teams have multiple players capable of creating and knocking down their own shots.
Terrence Ross has struggled in the first two playoff games of his career, so he may very well be due for an offensive outbreak to close out a game. The Nets also have not yet unleashed their fourth quarter weapon Joe “I don’t miss a shot in the final two minutes” Johnson.
Whatever the outcome in game three between these two Eastern Conference squads, expect another hard-fought physical battle that goes down to the wire. Oh yeah, expect the trash talking to continue as well.
Commentary By Eric Kummel