On Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets will head to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to take on the Raptors in Game 5 of their first round playoff series. Tied at 2-2, the series has reached a pivotal point, to which got us thinking about past performances from current Nets. So, we asked our Social Media Editor Larry Fleisher and of course he had the answers.
What happens when a series is tied at 2-2 in the fifth game for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams?
Paul Pierce has appeared in 140 playoff games, so it’s not stunning that he is not dwelling on the Game Four loss. Of those games, Wednesday will be his 12th Game Five when the series is tied at two games apiece.
So how did Pierce do in those situations? Here’s a look.
Pierce’s first fifth game was actually an elimination game since the first round in 2002 was still a best-of-five. After the Celtics lost two games at Philadelphia, they closed out the defending Eastern Conference champs with a 120-87 rout at home. In that game, Pierce had 46 points on 16-of-25 shooting, including 8-of-10 from 3-point range.
The second came in New Jersey and two games after the Celtics pulled off that memorable comeback. Except this time was a 103-92 loss as Pierce scored 24 on 5-of-13 shooting and the series ended in six games.
Three years later, Pierce was a division champion but faced a tough series with the Pacers. In the fifth game, Pierce had 27 on 6-of-13 shooting in a 90-85 loss and the Celtics lost the series in seven.
The next time Pierce was a playoff player, things had changed drastically. He had gone from being a name in trade rumors to joining forces with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They won a title their first year and in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 postseasons Pierce played 64 playoff games, spanning 305 minutes.
That run was paved with challenges along the way since Pierce and the Celtics played seven Game Fives when the series was tied at two games apiece and they won all of them, though you can make the disclaimer that six were at home.
The first one was a 110-85 rout over Atlanta where Pierce scored 22 on 10-of-17 shooting in a game that featured Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett jawing at each other. Boston won that series in seven and then faced the Cavaliers.
They won the fifth game 96-89 by dominating the third quarter, rallying from a five-point deficit in the first and getting 29 points from Pierce on 8-of-19 shooting. After beating the Cavaliers in seven, the Pistons were next, the Celtics faced the same situation again and Pierce scored 16 on 5-of-11 shooting in a 106-102 victory in their final home game before the NBA finals since the series ended in six.
In 2009, the Celtics played a memorable first-round series against the Bulls with then rookie Derrick Rose. The series went the distance and the Celtics won in seven despite dropping three overtime games.
The one that they won was Game Five and Pierce had a significant role in the 106-104 victory, getting 26 on 11-of-22 shooting. To force overtime, he hit a 15-footer with 10.5 seconds left and then hit the game-winner with 3.4 seconds left in overtime with current Raptor John Salmons defending him. It was all part of a showing that saw Pierce score 12 points after Ray Allen fouled out.
The next round saw the Celtics repeat bid ended in seven games to Orlando but before they bowed out, Pierce helped the Celtics win Game Five, 92-88. Pierce had 19 and the Celtics rallied from 14 down while holding the Magic to one basket in the final six minutes.
The Celtics returned to the finals in 2010 and along the way they ended LeBron James’ career in Cleveland. That included Pierce’s 21 points in a 120-88 rout at Cleveland and that was James last home game there since the Celtics won in six. In the NBA finals, the Celtics won Game 5 against the Lakers with Pierce getting 27 on 12-of-21 in a 92-86 win but they lost the title in seven games.
Two years later, Pierce and James met up in the conference finals but before getting there, he had to hold off the pesky Sixers, who knocked off the top-seeded Bulls. Pierce wound up with 16 points on 3-of-7 shooting in Game 5 and the Celtics won 101-85 before taking the series in seven.
So Pierce’s final totals in those situations, Pierce has shot 50.8 percent (85-of-167) while averaging 22.3 points and the more important number is nine wins in 11 games.
Nets vs. Raptors: Game 5
Nets vs. Raptors: Game 5
Kevin Garnett has played in 135 playoff games and though it took him a while to get past the first round with Minnesota, he still has been in this situation before and Wednesday marks the ninth time the "Big Ticket" is playing a Game Five in a 2-2 tie.
He was 21 when the first one took place and the inexperience and youthfulness showed in a 97-84 Game Five loss at Seattle on May 2, 1998. This was back when he and Stephon Marbury were paired up and they combined to go for 5-for-21 with Garnett going 3-for-11 for seven points and committing 10 turnovers. All while Gary Payton had an all-time great game, 29 points and one turnovers in 48 minutes.
Five years later Garnett was two wins away from getting past the first round but had to contend with the three-time defending champion Lakers. The Wolves were up 2-1 but lost Game Four and in the fifth game, Garnett scored 25 points in a 120-90 loss at home. During that game, Garnett could heard by writers sitting courtside saying "Don’t get me, don’t get me!" That was because he thought he was being subbed out.
The saying in the playoffs is that you have to sometimes lose like the Wolves did in 2003 to reach greater heights and in 2004 Garnett and the Wolves did by winning 58 games and getting past the first round and to the conference finals. Before their rematch with the Lakers, Garnett had to get through Sacramento. The Wolves needed seven and returned home for Game 5 in a 2-2 tie but wound up with an 86-74 win as Garnett had 23 and 12 rebounds but more importantly hounded Chris Webber and Brad Miller defensively, to the point where Miller was ejected in the third.
Unfortunately for Garnett, that would the last playoff run in Minnesota but fortunately for Boston, a new one began four years later.
Garnett’s first Game 5 in a 2-2 tie was against Atlanta and in that 110-85 win, he had 20 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three blocks. His biggest shot was a turnaround hook that quelled an 11-0 Atlanta run in the third.
The second was one of his best playoff performances on May 14, 2008 against the Cavaliers. It was a 26-point showing on 12-of-19 shooting while getting 16 rebounds and held LeBron James to one basket in a crucial 20-minute stretch.
Against the Pistons, Garnett was even better, going off for 33 on 11-of-17 shooting in a 106-102 win at Detroit. He iced the win with two free throws but actually hit a fallaway 3-pointer before the shot clock expired in the first half.
After a knee injury knocked Garnett out of the 2009 playoffs, he returned and helped get the Celtics back to the finals. In the second round, the Celtics were two games to one but tied the series at home and then won 120-88 in Game Five at Cleveland as Garnett had 18 on 8-for-14 shooting.
In the NBA finals, the first five games began the same way as the series in Cleveland. In Game 5 he was a contributor to what Pierce did in willing the Celtics to a 92-86 win. Garnett wound up with another double-double getting 18 and 10 while shooting 6-of-11.
So in this situation Garnett has won six of eight games. He has averaged 21.2 points while shooting 51.9 percent (68-of-131).
Nobody expects Garnett to reach 21 points but as we’ve seen he’s capable of getting 10 to 15 points.
Joe Johnson will be appearing in his 75th postseason game and might have the Nets in that 2002 series but the Celtics traded him to the Suns at the trade deadline during his rookie season.
Johnson’s first playoff series came the following year against the Spurs when the Suns had the young trio of Stephon Marbury, Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. That meant minutes and shots were limited for Johnson.
In that series the Suns won Game One on a Marbury buzzer beater, lost the next two before getting Game Four at the last second. Johnson averaged 27.3 minutes but shot 27.5 percent and in that pivotal fifth game, he was scoreless in 12 minutes while missing five shots.
Two years later Johnson began establishing himself thanks to Mike D’Antoni’s speedball system and the addition of Steve Nash. However, an orbital bone injury in Game Two against Dallas prevented him from playing until Game Three against San Antonio in the conference finals.
Then Johnson signed with Atlanta and established himself even more under Mike Woodson (funny how that happened under the last two Knick coaches). He matched against Pierce and Garnett in the first round in 2008 and scored 21 points on 6-of-11 shooting but the Hawks lost 110-85.
In 2009, Johnson avoided the Celtics and instead wound up facing the Heat. It was a seven-game series where every game was decided by double-digits and Johnson averaged 17.1 points. After losing Games Two and Three by a combined 44 points, the Hawks evened the series and Johnson scored 25 in a 106-91 win at Game Five with 13 coming in the second quarter when the game became a blowout.
In 2010, the Hawks won 53 games and found themselves in a seven-game series with the Bucks. The series held form for the home teams for the first four games but in Game Five, Atlanta wound up with a 91-87 loss. Johnson had 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting but like Game Four but was called for a crucial offensive foul against Kurt Thomas. That fouled Johnson out with 2:15 remaining and the Hawks up one after they had been up nine a few minutes.
Johnson and the Hawks regrouped to win the next two games before getting swept by Orlando, though they got by the Magic in 2011.
That set up a meeting with the Bulls.
Johnson helped the Hawks tie the series with 24 points but had 15 on 6-of-15 shooting. One of those misses in a 95-83 loss was a game-tying 3-point attempt early in the fourth which came in the opening stages of a 10-0 run which helped the Bulls pull away and eventually win the series in six.
So for Johnson, the experience is not as vast as Pierce or Garnett in this spot. After winning one of the previous five averaging 19.6 points on 38.7 shooting, Johnson has something to prove in this spot.
Deron Williams has played in 55 playoff games so far and his initial foray into this was April 30, 2007 at Houston.
Williams helped even the series with 25 points but could not get it done in Houston. He was 4-for-16 with 13 points and missed his last three fourth quarter shots in a 96-92 loss. Williams recovered in the next two games and the Jazz got by the Warriors before bowing out to the Spurs despite the point guard averaging 25 points.
The following year, Williams ran into this situation again on the road but this time it was the Lakers. After scoring 29 to even the series, he did his part with 29 in a 111-104 loss. However, he missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining and the Lakers pulled away before winning Game Six.
So that’s two games of varying results for Williams, whom the Nets hope that he plays similar to the Laker game on Wednesday.
Larry Fleisher covers the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Yankees for Metro. He also does wire work and live in-game stats for various NBA teams' radio broadcasts. Larry also runs the NetsDaily Facebook account. You can follow him on Twitter here.