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Raptors take Game 1 in first round, dominating Nets, 134-110

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Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game One Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Raptors and Nets looked like two teams who belong in different leagues in Game 1 on Monday afternoon. To be fair, the Nets are playing with a roster filled with those who were in a different league opening day.

And it showed by the end of the evening with a final score, 134-110.

The Raptors (53-19) entered the series as the two-seed in the Eastern Conference against the feel-good story Nets (35-37), and reminded them of exactly how things went throughout the regular season, before and after the pandemic.

“I think you give Toronto credit. They are champions and have played on a big stage before,” said Jacque Vaughn post-game. “Seems like they were trying to deliver an early message to the group, but I did like the way our group responded after halftime and accepted that first punch from Toronto. The rounds will continue.”

It was about as ugly as can be in the early stages for Brooklyn. Toronto went up by 17 after the first quarter and ballooned the lead to 33 points in the second quarter. They did everything they could to assert dominance over the Nets on both sides of the ball. The Nets found little momentum on the offensive end while their defensive incompetence prevented them from stopping a relentless Raptors offense.

“They (Raptors) were definitely just the more aggressive team, both offensively and defensively to start, said Joe Harris. “They ended up jumping out on us and the momentum shifted a little bit. It ended up getting up by 30 at one point. We definitely dug ourselves a hole there. They were definitely the more aggressive team on both sides of the ball.”

It wasn’t all bad. As usual, the Nets kept coming back and at one point in the second half, reduced the lead to nine. But it is a game of runs and Toronto got the last one.

Caris LeVert was the anchor for Brooklyn, but it was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who stepped up and hit shots when nobody else was. He finished with a career-high tying 26 points and seven rebounds. It’s the third time in the “bubble” that the 25-year-old tied or broke his previous career high.

LeVert was fired up. You could hear him on the telecast talking to his team and pumping them up. The Raptors went up by 33 in the second, but at that point on, the Nets pulled off an extended 44-20 run and trimmed the deficit to eight. Jarrett Allen hit a mid-range bank shot to close out the third, capping off a 35-point quarter for the Nets.

But Toronto adjusted. They had blitzed LeVert most of the night, but in the fourth quarter, they doublee him almost as soon as he crossed half court. LeVert took a breaker at the 8:38 mark down 15, checked back in no more than two minutes later and the Nets were down 18.

At that point, the two teams went back and forth until Jacque Vaughn threw in the white towel with 3:54 remaining and the Raptors up 17. LeVert scored zero in the final frame, finishing with 15 points and career-high 15 assists. In the process, he became the second Net to rack up 15 and 15 in a playoff game, the other Jason Kidd who did it more than once.

The Nets turned the ball over 14 times and shot 11-of-16 from the free throw line. They hit 47 percent of their shots, but it came a bit too late. Toronto hit 22-of-44 from deep, which ultimately did the Nets in.

Fred VanVleet was the star for Toronto, finishing with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting with eight three-pointers. All of Toronto’s starters finished in double figures, while Serge Ibaka came off the bench for 22 points.

Brooklyn, meanwhile, had four of its starters in double figures, but Garrett Temple and LeVert combined to shoot just 10-of-29 from the floor while Rodions Kurucs fouled out after 16 minutes of action. Other than LeVert and TLC, Jarrett Allen had yet another double-double, his fourth straight —and fifth in the last six games— in Orlando. He also had the play of the game.

For a different perspective, head on over to Raptors HQ, our Raptors sister site on SB Nation.

The Raptors continued using players’ children to introduce their starting line-up. Players won’t be reunited with their families until the end of the first round.

And then there was this view of the Raptors hometown during the national anthems: Canadian singer Jessie Reyes atop the CN Tower in downtown Toronto...



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