A back-and-forth series continued in its familiar footsteps on Sunday night when the Brooklyn Nets fell to the Toronto Raptors 87-79.
The Raptors snapped a 13-game road losing streak in the playoffs dating back all the way to 2001 while Brooklyn blew an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. The Nets have now relinquished home-court advantage to the upstart Toronto team after expertly stealing it away in Game 1.
Brooklyn’s loss can be attributed to anemic fourth-quarter play which featured just 12 points scored on 17.6 percent shooting (3-for-17) in the period. I am not trying to take anything away from the Raptors, who went out and took the game, but when the other team shoots 17 percent in the final period, your chances greatly increase.
Deron Williams was invisible in the period, playing all 12 minutes without scoring a single point (0-for-4 fga, 0-for-3 3pta) with just one rebound and two turnovers. What was peculiar about his shot selection in the period was how he declined to shoot while he was the only starter on the floor to begin the period.
Brooklyn started the final frame tied at 67 with a lineup that included Williams, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic, Andrei Kirilenko, and Andray Blatche. One would figure that Williams would be most aggressive with that lineup, hoping to set the tone for the final minutes. Not Williams, who promptly chucked his first shot of the period up after Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett checked back into the game four minutes in.
But the loss isn’t for Williams alone to bear.
The Nets committed six turnovers in the period to further insult their effort where they showed winter-like shooting in spring during the final quarter. “Closers” Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce weren’t able to deliver either, combining for just two points in the period. On this night it was Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez of the Raptors who did the closing, acting like the cleanup crew as the game clock winded down to zero.
On a night where the game could have gone their way, the Brooklyn offense vanished when they needed it most. The overall field goal percentages for both teams were practically dead even (41.3 percent for Toronto and 41.2 percent for Brooklyn), which makes the bricked-out performance of the Nets in the fourth that much harder to swallow.
The trend of your turn, my turn that has shown its face in this series would signal the Nets closing things out in Game 7, but momentum is clearly on side of the Raptors.
Even if Brooklyn does go on to capture the series, this loss prolongs things for a veteran (that’s a nice way of saying “old”) team and wears them down for a potential second-round faceoff with the Miami Heat. Either way, Miami is sitting pretty as their series looks to be closing quickly with Charlotte and they can enjoy watching whoever their opponent ends up being survive a rigorous first round.
Brooklyn will truly need to stand up to avoid another fourth-quarter collapse and capture two more wins to vanquish a Raptors team that now has the confidence to beat them, even when the game is ugly.
Tags: Brooklyn Nets