The Bubble Nets are about to be popped.
It was practically a do-or-die game for the Nets, who squandered a 14-point lead in Game 2 and entered Game 3 down 0-2. They trailed the entire game and fell to 0-3 in the series, the Toronto Raptors winning by a final score of 117-92.
The Raptors had an answer for everything the Nets did. Playing without Joe Harris, Brooklyn’s roster was filled with members of the Long Island Nets or last-minute pick-ups... plus Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.
And that was their focal point all throughout the night: contain the two of them and let the rest beat you. For Brooklyn, few others beat them. In fact, Garrett Temple and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot combined to shoot 5-of-30 from the field and 3-of-20 from three. The Nets shot 32.6 percent as a whole and attempted 51 three-pointers.
Meanwhile, Jarrett Allen took zero shots. Zip. Nada. He did, however, grab 17 rebounds. Per John Schuhmann, the Nets finished with a season-low for shots at the rim.
“I think overall, the game just unfolded that way. We even got to a point where we ran an after-timeout play for him and he got fouled. We were definitely trying to keep him involved. He was really on the glass for us tonight,” said Jacque Vaughn.
“They did a good job of keeping him off the rebounds that he got offensively – he ended up passing those out. We did get him the ball in the half-roll a little – that’s (Marc) Gasol’s minutes matching up with his. That was probably an emphasis of that. Overall, not part of the game plan not to get the ball to him, but it was a part of our game plan to shoot 50 threes.”
It was a problem throughout the night. Allen was coming off a big double double in the near-upset in Game 2, so Toronto predicated their defensive strategy around him. In the pick-and-roll, at least three jerseys swarmed Allen inside the paint. It opened up the paint, but the Nets didn’t make them pay nearly enough from deep.
It doesn’t help that Harris is integral in the offense, whether it be a kick out to the perimeter or working in the pick-and-roll.
“When you don’t have all the components of your card, it puts stress on different parts, and that was the result tonight,” Vaughn said. “Just put extra stress on different individuals to make plays they might not have had to make if Joe was here.”
Caris LeVert agreed.
“When Joe’s out there, you have to keep an eye on him, and I think the first couple of games they had to keep an eye on him, so the court was a little more spread out, so JA got a lot more easy looks at the rim. I got a couple more easy looks at the rim,” said LeVert.
“When he’s not out there, it makes it a little bit tougher. Tyler took advantage of his opportunities of open shots and things like that, but, you know when Joe’s out there, it’s a different game.”
Without his defensive prowess, Toronto was enabled in the paint. The Raptors out-rebounded the Nets by 14.
Furthermore, the Raptors shot 50 percent from the field and 18-of-38 from three. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka all finished with 20+ points. The Nets had one player with 20, Tyler Johnson who who had playoff career high of 23.
Prior to this series, the Nets were the only team in the NBA to lead in every single game. In Game 1 and 3, the Nets did not lead at all. It started early in this one with Toronto jumping out on a 16-5 start to the game. They kept building off it, falling down by as many as 17 in the second quarter.
After that, the closest Brooklyn got was nine. Johnson had hit another 3-pointer, but Toronto answered with an 8-0 run in the span of one minute and eight seconds. The deficit was 16 entering the fourth, then later ballooned to 31 in the fourth. Game over.
Toronto deserves a ton of credit, but Brooklyn seemed disoriented all night. Here’s a couple...
The Nets trotted down the floor, looking to cut the deficit down to 10 maybe even nine with a 3-pointer. It was a 3-on-1 fast break that somehow turned into a five-foot midrange jumper for Chris Chiozza. He missed and Norman Powell came down on the other end and nailed a 3-pointer, giving Toronto a 15-point lead.
Then, just seconds before half, Caris LeVert hit a 3-pointer with .8 second left. He and the other four players in black jerseys turned their back, enabling Marc Gasol to roll a pass to Fred VanVleet, who nailed a ridiculous heave as time expired. Instead of entering the locker room down 12 with momentum, they were down 15 with frustration looming.
Garrett Temple even gave Luwawu-Cabarrot an earful for not putting a hand in VanVleet’s face.
Unacceptable. Watch all the black jerseys standings around after a made bucket. I understand there’s .8 second left, but you play until the final whistle.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) August 21, 2020
Raptors lead 57-42 at half. pic.twitter.com/1lsNZqExwl
To be fair, this IS a crazy shot and neither of these cases are why the Nets lost. They’re completely undermanned and the Raptors are the two-seed for a reason, but the lack of energy was appalling given the desperate circumstances the Nets were in.
MEANWHILE BACK IN BROOKLYN...
The train's brakes were activated by a basketball on the tracks.— NYCT Subway. Wear a Mask. Fill out the Census. (@NYCTSubway) August 21, 2020
Look, we know that the Nets are in a deep hole against the defending champs, and the irony is not lost on us. However, that's no excuse: keep the ball on the court.
KD will be here next year.
A FIRST FOR TORONTO
Despite winning the NBA championship last season —and despite having the best record in the NBA over the past five years, the 117-92 wire-to-wire final gives the Raptors a franchise first 3-0 lead in a playoff series. Any playoff series. Ever. That’s how dominant they’ve been vs. the Nets.
“They’re very well-coached. They’ve got guys who have been there before,” said LeVert. “Obviously Kawhi’s the guy that they lost, but everyone else is back. They’ve got like four guys capable of getting 25 every night. So it’s like one guy’s off and the other guy makes up for it, you saw that last game with Norman Powell getting like 27. And then they’ve got the two-headed monster with Kyle and VanVleet who kind of just get 20 every night.”
Meanwhile, the Nets are 0-3 in playoff competition for the first time since being swept by Miami in the first round of the 2005 playoffs.
AND A NOT-SO-FIRST
Justin Anderson got on the record during the second half, telling anyone within range of his voice that it was time for Kyle Lowry to stop the flop. He was not subtle. Nor was the flop...
This flop from Kyle Lowry. Justin Anderson tells Lowry to “stop flopping.” pic.twitter.com/zTfzVe2BRv— NBA Report (@NBAHoopCentral) August 21, 2020
Post-game, Anderson continued his lobbying for an end to the Lowry flop...
TOO MUCH FLOPPIN’— Justin Anderson (@JusAnderson1) August 22, 2020
HAVE SOME INTEGRITY FOR THE GAME..— Justin Anderson (@JusAnderson1) August 22, 2020
ICYMI ... L2M REPORT
If it makes you feel any better, the refs should have called a foul on the handoff with 3.6 seconds left in Game 2...
According to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report, the refs should have called a foul on Fred VanVleet for making contact on Garrett Temple during the Nets final possession of Game 2.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) August 21, 2020
Full details pic.twitter.com/i6wwCjiXg0
ALAS, POOR SQUIDWARD
For a different perspective, head on over to Raptors HQ, our Raptors sister site on SB Nation.
The Nets will look to avoid a sweep in Game 4 on Sunday, 6:30PM EST.
- Box Score: Toronto Raptors 117, Brooklyn Nets 92 - NBA.com
- Game Report: Toronto Raptors 117, Brooklyn Nets 92 (Video) - NBA.com
- Raptors erase Jarrett Allen, open 3-0 series lead on Nets - John Schuhmann - NBA.com
- Michael Grady and Jim Spanarkel on Nets’ loss (Video) - YES Network
- Jacque Vaughn on loss to Toronto (Video) - YES Network
- Jarrett Allen on loss to Raptors (Video) - YES Network
- Caris LeVert on Nets’ loss (Video) - YES Network
- Tyler Johnson reacts after Nets’ loss (Video) - YES Network
- Nets on Masai Ujiri’s altercation (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- Spencer Dinwiddie and Michael Grady open up basketball cards (Video) - YES Network
- Garrett Temple on social justice (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - YES Network
- Siakam scores 26, Raptors trounce Nets for 3-0 series lead - AP
- Siakam, VanVleet fuel Raptors in rout of Nets - Reuters
- Nets’ season basically over after Game 3 destruction by Raptors - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets had no answers for Raptors’ Jarrett Allen adjustment - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets fall behind 3-0 in series vs. Raptors - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Selfless Jarrett Allen gets 17 boards but zero FG attempts in Nets’ loss - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets shredded by Raptors, fall in 3-0 hole as season is all but over - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Tyler Johnson’s big night ‘doesn’t really mean anything’ - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Jarrett Allen, Tyler Johnson and more: Five thoughts from the Nets’ Game 3 loss - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Nets now facing elimination following 117-92 loss to Raptors in Game 3 - Alex Smith - SNY
- RAPTORS 117, NETS 92: BROOKLYN FALLS BEHIND 3-0 TO TORONTO - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. RAPTORS - GAME 3 - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. RAPTORS: TYLER JOHNSON, CARIS LEVERT, AND JACQUE VAUGHN TOP QUOTES - Brooklyn Nets
- BKLYN: TOGETHER (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- It’s been three and mostly easy for the Raptors, who say they are motivated by ‘something bigger’ in series with Nets - Bruce Arthur - Toronto Star
- Love of basketball makes NBA isolation more bearable for the Raptors, win (mostly) or lose - Doug Smith - Toronto Star
- Ibaka/Gasol combo gives Raptors immense luxury in the middle - Ryan Wolstat - Toronto Sun
- Convincing wire-to-wire win gives Raptors first ever three-game playoff series lead - Mike Ganter - Toronto Sun