Here's what the teams have done this series as we enter Game Five:
Offensive Rebounding percentage
Free throw rate
Effective Field Goal percentage
Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage
It was bound to happen eventually, but Joe Johnson had his first bad game of the series. Johnson led the team in scoring the first three games of the series, but only could score seven on Sunday night. He couldn't get anything going in the post as the Raptors through double teams at him and kept him off balance. Toronto's strategy has evolved throughout the series as they played him one-on-one in the early part and have moved to doubling him more often when he's in the low post. It'll be up to the Nets to make the counter-adjustment in Games Five, Six, and (if necessary) Seven. If the Raptors do continue to double, the Nets need to start making their three point field goals. After shooting well from deep in March and April, Brooklyn is shooting a playoff worst 25 percent from three point range.
In the first two games of the series, there were concerns about Toronto's poor late game execution. Over the last two, those concerns have shifted over to Brooklyn. The Nets had a few mistakes late in Game three but were able to overcome them. In Game Four, they weren't so lucky and got shut out over the final 4:43. Coming into the season, a bunch of us had the Nets making a deep run, so naturally the pressure is on them to win this game. Why? Let Reed explain:
Historically, the team with a 3-to-2 series lead wins the series nearly 86 percent of the time. If the Nets fail to pick up the win tomorrow in Toronto, it would be even more difficult to take one there in a Game 7 environment, no matter what former champions are suiting up for them. Brooklyn must show urgency on Wednesday, something that has been lacking in this series, and put forth that complete performance that Paul Pierce was referring to on Sunday. Pierce thought it was coming in Game 4, but it didn't, and now the Nets have their backs against the wall.
The Nets got shut out over the final 4:58 as the Raptor defense tightened up. Outside of Pierce and Mirza Teletovic, no one on the Nets consistently shot well throughout the game. Marcus Thornton is someone that can provide some scoring punch off the bench, but he struggled down the stretch of the regular season and hasn't done much during this series. Assuming the Nets fall into another dry spell on offense, he might make an extended appearance.
Demar DeRozan struggled from the floor once again, but did manage to get to the line eleven times. In the series, he's averaged eleven free throws a game and 24.5 points per game. He slowed down in the second half, but was the only option for the Raps in the first half. For the most part, Shaun Livingston and crew have kept the first time All Star stuck on the perimeter taking jumpers.
The Nets won (OK they tied) the rebounding battle, but they weren't able to force as many turnovers as they have throughout the series. Fortunately for the Nets, the Raptors didn't do much with those extra possessions, making only 41 percent of their field goal attempts. Neither team has been shooting well, but have made up for it by getting to the free throw line a ton.
Jonas Valanciunas has played well in the series, but foul trouble has been slowing him down. He only played 22 minutes but Patrick Patterson and Amir Johnson picked up the slack for JV. The Net trio of big men, Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche, will be tasked with slowing Valanciunas down, but so far haven't been able to do it. He's shooting 65 percent from the field and has averaged a double-double this series.
Through four games, Kyle Lowry has been winning the point guard matchup between himself and Deron Williams. Lowry has been more aggressive than Williams for most of this series, getting to the free throw line more than Williams and shooting better from the field as well. We talk about it all the time, but the Nets' best chance of advancing deep into the playoffs is when Williams is an active participant in the team's offense. Lowry is still dealing with a bad knee but that hasn't slowed him down yet.
Player to watch: Greivis Vasquez
The Raptors backup point guard has seen an increase in minutes due to the struggles of starting guard Terrence Ross this series. Ross only played 14 minutes while Vasquez played 34. Vasquez hasn't shot all that well, but compared to Ross, he's an improvement.
He's a good ballhandler and passer which works well when he's on the court with Lowry. When the two guards are on the court together, Toronto is averaging 109.2 points per 100 possessions. Vasquez had the best year of his four year (it feels like he's been in the NBA much longer) career after he got traded from Sacramento to the Raptors, and his success from three point range was a big part of that. That and his willingness to shoot in end-of-game situations will bode well for him if the game is close late. He isn't the greatest defender in the world, but Lowry and DeRozan will be responsible for that.
From the Vault
Game Five Nets-Raptors, except this time we're in 2007.
More reading: Raptors HQ
The game will air on My9 in the New York area at 7:30 p.m. (new time).. Everywhere else, it will be on NBA TV. After the final buzzer in Toronto, there will be post-game coverage back on YES.
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Toronto Raptors Game Notes - Toronto Raptors
- Nets-Raptors Preview - Ian Harrison - AP
- Williams Once Again Shows That He Is His Toughest Critic - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- Nets know they have to get it going in fourth quarter - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Garnett was nearly on the Clippers - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Brooklyn Nets look for more aggressive Deron Williams - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce feel for former coach Rivers - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Shaun Livingston: Brooklyn Nets 'have got to stay focused' - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- NBA: Nets starring in miniseries - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets' three keys to Game 5 - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- As Raptors Series Begins to Slip, Nets Find Their Formula Isn't Working - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Deron Williams's Fourth-Quarter Struggles Are Very Real - Devin Kharpertian - New York Post
- Video: Raptor Kyle Lowry looks to 'protect home' in Game 5 (Video) - Cathal Kelly - Toronto Globe & Mail
- Voice of the Raptors still at home in Brooklyn - Cathal Kelly - Toronto Globe & Mail
- Raptors: Amir Johnson’s power and pep more important now than ever - Doug Smith - Toronto Star
- Raptors: Tickets hard to come by at ACC for Game 5 against Brooklyn Nets - Gemma Kartens-Smith
- Raptors fans should give themselves a round of applause - Steve Buffery - Toronto Sun
- Raptors' Terrence Ross will remain in starting lineup - Mike Ganter - Toronto Sun
- Nets vets have performed well in Game 5s - Ryan Wolstat - Toronto Sun
- Raptors like underdog label in series with Nets - Ryan Wolstat - Toronto Sun
- Raptors ready for street fight in Game 5 against Nets - Mike Ganter - Toronto Sun
- Raptors praise their fans for support against Nets - Ryan Wolstat - Toronto Sun
- Forget experience, Raptors’ clash with Nets is down to who wants it more - Eric Koreen - National Post
- Raptors vs Nets : Johnson-Pierce matchup one of most intriguing in series - Metro Canada
- Toronto coach Dwane Casey says Raptors growing from playoff experience - Lori Ewing - Canadian Press
- Raptors energized in playoff series by raucous home crowds - Canadian Press
- Would Brooklyn Nets or Toronto Raptors be greater challenge for Miami Heat? - Ira Winderman - South Florida Sun-Sentinel
- Ex-Raptor Chris Bosh keenly watching series vs. Nets as Miami Heat awaits next foe - Joseph Goodman - Miami Herald