It’s a brand new world, and everyone’s making the most of it. For the Brooklyn Nets, the bubble experience has been beyond their wildest dreams and they come into the playoffs on a high.
Last summer, the Toronto Raptors shocked the world and won the NBA Championship. They’re looking different these days, but they’re just as dangerous and are one of the favorites to go on a deep run this year.
Where to follow the game
ESPN and WFAN 101.9 FM got us covered. Tip off is after 4:00 PM. Officially, this is a Raptors home game, but it’s being played more than 2,000 miles to the South. The New York Times reports that the “NBA is relying on a database of music, audio cues and graphics to help teams feel at home.”
Let’s do the big run down. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, and Nicolas Claxton are not in the bubble as they deal with various situations that kept them out. Jamal Crawford is out with a hamstring injury.
Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, and Oshae Brissett are listed as game time decisions, but everybody figures to be good to go today.
Jacque Vaughn and friends will have their hands full defending Pascal Siakam. Siakam has naturally grown into the role of leading man and is the key to Toronto’s future.
Jarrett Allen will be handling the boards for the Nets. As the lone big man on the roster, he’ll be the one responsible for tussling with Ibaka and Marc Gasol. The Raps were one of the best rebounding teams in the bubble and that will pose some trouble for Allen. The Nets lack of size did manifest in teams shooting a league high 70.7 percent against them inside the bubble. Toronto didn’t finish well at the rim inside the bubble, but that could change if the Nets aren’t careful.
Joe Harris will be crucial to Brooklyn’s hopes of pulling off the upset. He didn’t have much success against the Philadelphia 76ers last playoffs, but he’s a much better player this time around. In the bubble, Harris played the best ball of his career as he continued to add to his repertoire on offense. My man Matt Brooks has more:
Rather than overexerting the marksman-turned-playmaker with excess ball-handling responsibilities that can and will decease his overall efficiency, like we saw in January, Vaughn is allowing Harris to create for teammates through the use of his ever-purring motor, beefy frame, and basketball IQ, all to the tune of 20.2 points per game on ridiculous 74.7% true shooting. If you didn’t already know, the man is the pinnacle of efficiency. Goodness gracious, he’s more than just a shooter!
The Raps have a bunch of rangy, athletic defenders they can throw at Harris, including our old friend Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Brooklyn doesn’t have many players that can go get their own shot, so having Harris playing well is essential.
Some news off the court. Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin is facing allegations of domestic violence against his ex-wife, Audrey. He and the team have released a statement regarding the matter. Griffin has been mentioned as a possible head coach for a number of teams.
If you want a little more Nets-Raptors coverage, Matt Brooks and I chopped it up with the good folks at Raptors Republic. Check it out!
Player to watch: Kyle Lowry
Since joining the Raptors in 2012, Lowry has been the anchor for the franchise. He and Demar DeRozan brought the franchise back to respectability and made them a solid contender for many years in the Eastern Conference. When their window shut, Lowry teamed with Kawhi Leonard to bring a title to the North. Now, he and Siakam will be the duo to lead the Raps into the next era. When Lowry hangs it up, he’ll have the Hall of Fame and jersey retirement awaiting him.
In the meantime, he’s continued to play well for Nick Nurse. He’s kept his turnovers down, which is crucial for a team that didn’t score as much in the bubble (Toronto was 18th in offensive efficiency during the eight game restart). The Raps were able to hold their own while Lowry was off the floor, so as the series progresses, he won’t have to play huge minutes.
It’s star time. Caris LeVert was named second team All-Bubble, and it was a well deserved honor. LeVert has been starting at point in the bubble, and putting the ball in his hands and allowing him to create has paid off in huge ways. As the focal point of the team’s offense, a lot is riding on his shoulders. He shot a career best 36.4 percent from three on the season, but only 25.8 percent in the bubble. The Raps will dare him to beat them from deep and have a bushel of defenders they can throw at him, so look for Levert to be extra aggressive early to set the tone.
From the Vault
It’s only right we start with the last time these two teams met in the playoffs
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Toronto Raptors Game Notes - Toronto Raptors
- Raptors tip off title defense against Nets in Round 1 - STATS/TSX
- Toronto plays Brooklyn to open playoffs - AP
- Nets not backing down from daunting Raptors challenge - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets need Joe Harris to capitalize against Raptors - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- How the Nets match up against the Raptors at all positions - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Raptors coach Nurse not taking Nets for granted - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets full of confidence entering Game 1 vs. Raptors - Greg Logan - Newsday
- The Nets have their hands full in first round against the Raptors - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- The Raptors are allowing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to be himself - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Caris LeVert on playoff preparation (Video) - YES Network
- Nets-Raptors preview: Matchups and storylines to watch, key players and more - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- 4 Keys for Nets to Have Chance Against Raptors - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- NBA playoffs 2020: Everything to know about the 16 teams that can still win the title - ESPN
- NETS VS. RAPTORS: GAME 1 NBA PLAYOFFS PREVIEW - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- BROOKLYN NETS STATS SURVEY - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NBA FOUNDATION IS ‘ACTION’ GARRETT TEMPLE HAS SOUGHT - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- RAPTORS ROAD TO REPEAT: The Raptors launch defence of their NBA crown with clear minds and hungry hearts - Doug Smith - Toronto Star
- From champions to underdogs, the Raptors unite around that ‘chip’ on their shoulders - Dave Feschuk - Toronto Star
- RAPTORS REPORT CARDS: Defending NBA champs get high marks - Ryan Wolstat - Toronto Sun
- Amazing to call Raptors ‘defending champs’ as playoffs begin - Steve Simmons - Toronto Sun
- The Raptors have changed the sporting culture of Toronto - Cathal Kelly - Toronto Globe & Mail