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Raptors use fast start, strong finish to even the series with Game 4 win over Nets

Apr 27, 2014, 10:23 PM EDT

Paul Pierce, DeMar DeRozan AP

Through the first three games of the first round series between the Nets and the Raptors, Toronto had no answer for Joe Johnson, who was simply killing them offensively.

Johnson had scored 24, 18 and 29 points respectively in each of the first three games, while shooting better than 60 percent from the field whether the looks were from inside, outside, or somewhere in between.

But the Raptors adjusted in Game 4, sending hard double teams at Johnson whenever he received the ball in the post, and forced his teammates to beat them with ball movement, crisp passing, and high percentage shooting from anyone but the player Kevin Garnett nicknamed Joe Jesus earlier in the season.

The plan worked to perfection. Johnson was held to just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting in 42 minutes of action, and the Nets managed just 12 fourth quarter points as Toronto came away with an 87-79 victory that evened the series at two games apiece.

Johnson isn’t the only weapon the Nets possess, but his being taken completely out of the offensive attack wrecked the rhythm for the rest of his teammates. Brooklyn started off on its heels, allowing 35 first quarter points to its opponent before settling down a bit and really containing Toronto just fine the rest of the way, allowing only 52 points in total over the game’s final three periods.

But offense was a problem for a Nets team that, theoretically, should have plenty of options. Paul Pierce led the way with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and Mirza Teletovic probably should have seen more than 16 minutes off the bench, considering he was 5-of-9 from the field with 12 points in that very short span. But Deron Williams wasn’t nearly the aggressor he was in Game 3, and finished just 4-of-12 from the field for 10 points in over 36 minutes of action, to go along with six assists against five turnovers.

DeMar DeRozan had 20 points by halftime, but was 0-for-7 from the field the rest of the way. Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez did the damage in the second half, but there wasn’t all that much needed considering the dismal output of the anemic Brooklyn offense.

All along this has felt like Brooklyn’s series to lose, and Game 4 was no exception, as the home team clawed back from an early 17-point deficit somewhat easily. But the Nets will have to find a way to get Johnson back on track offensively, or create some sets which take advantage of the double teams he’s seeing in order to get his teammates some easy, uncontested looks.

On the Raptors side, they’re feeling just fine after reclaiming homecourt advantage, with two of the remaining three games in the series being played in Toronto, if all seven are necessary in order to decide it. Sunday’s Game 4 more than any of the others showed the blueprint defensively for the Raptors — shut down two of the Nets’ three main threats, and the series can be theirs.

  1. zackd2 - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    Raps are so clutch, it’s like it’s in their DNA or something.

  2. dubblelznhell - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Go Raps!!!

  3. elrock7 - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    Raps are a young team full of heart. They are just getting acclimated to playoff ball.

    Brooklyn should be very worried, Toronto is only going to get better as this series deepens.

  4. canadatude - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    We should throw The Pollackoff the Brooklyn bridge! Why would he say its Brooklyns’ series to lose? Didn’t they place 6th?
    T O was a top 9 team on both offence and defence this year. They just have not been on their game most of this series. If they were, it would have been a sweep.

    • gofinsgoheatfloria - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:43 AM

      He said the series seemed like Brooklyn’s to lose probably for two reasons: Brooklyn’s record since January (which would have them a lot better than 6th if extended back to the start of the season), and playoff-proven Pierce and Garnett on their roster. These are two valid factors – of the gazillions that will determine who does advance.

  5. newyorkball82 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:31 AM

    There’s only one team from these two that can beat The Heat and its not Toronto because of lack of experience. That frustration we saw early on when Brooklyn rattled them and took the lead was evidence enough….

    • leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      lol, neither team from these 2 can beat the Heat in a playoff series. But at least the Raptors have the athleticism to potentially make it interesting. The regular season matchup means nothing, just like how the Bulls always beat them in the season and then get run off the court in the postseason.

      Oh, and btw that “rattling” didn’t last. Might want to double check the scoreboard.

  6. jbeagles23 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    Garnett is really a bench player now. Completely useless except for his bangin of the chest, fake tough guy persona.

    • theromeo2k - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      As much as I hate to, I have to let the old KG love and bias away and concur with your statement.

  7. jbeagles23 - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    And neither of these teams have a chance against the heat

  8. newyorkball82 - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    I wouldn’t count on the heat walking through anybody this year (except the bobcats, who are playing the worst basketball in the playoffs right now). All these teams have been playing on another level

    • xmen1906 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:34 AM

      I think the Al Jefferson injury took any fight the Bobcats had in them

  9. Kevin S. - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Heck of a back and forth game. Nets made a huge comeback after being down big early, but Raptors made the final adjustments and locked it down big time in the final minutes. Kyle Lowry may be a pest, but nothing but respect for his performance through that leg injury. Big time game.

    And I see our resident Raptor Truther is as sore a winner as he is a loser. Shocking.

    • Kevin S. - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Also, can we finally put to bed this ridiculous ref bias nonsense?

      • borderline1988 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:30 PM

        I admit, the refs finally decided to blow their whistles against the Nets in the 4th quarter. None of those offensive fouls were questionable…they were all clearly offensive fouls, calls that the refs simply weren’t calling in the past 3 games, or even in the 3rd quarter of game 4 for that matter.

        Hopefully the refs continue to call those offensive fouls against the Nets. KG should be fouling out after the first quarter of every game if the refs would call him for those illegal screens. No chance that Amir Johnson or Valanciunus would ever get away with all the grabbing, pushing and holding that KG commits on every single screen. If JV even breathes on the defender, he’s called for a offensive foul. KG should get the same treatment.

        I can’t stand when KG rubs out the defending guard, so that Pierce gets an easy avenue to the bucket, and even if KG’s defender gets in front of Pierce in time, KG rolls to the basket for an easy layup or short-jumper. No one else gets away with it (maybe besides the Spurs), why do the refs allow KG to do it

  10. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:54 PM

    PBT Logic:

    Game 1: Brooklyn was terrible from 3 and still won, therefore the series is basically over.
    Game 2: Toronto was terrible from 3 and still won, yet this fact is ignored and it’s still Brooklyn’s series to lose.
    Game 3: Brooklyn nearly collapses despite being the veteran team, no credit is given to Toronto but rather how Brooklyn can’t do this when, not if(tone of the article) they play the Heat.
    Game 4: Toronto jumps out to a big lead, blows it(if you know ANYTHING about the Raptors you’d know this was coming), and then turns on lock down D late in the 4th, as they’ve done much of the season as the best 4th quarter team in the league. Oh but of course it’s still Brooklyn’s series to lose somehow.

    I’m not even saying Toronto is in control either. No one is. Anyone who watched this series all year would know that you throw logic out the window with these 2 teams and nothing is guaranteed because they’re so evenly matched. But the continued tone of these articles is that it would take some sort of monumental collapse by the Nets for the Raptors to even stand a chance. Clearly this site hasn’t done their research on this series and continues to live in denial as it progresses exactly as the regular season matchups(and basic logic) suggested it would.

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