June 04, 2020

Brooklyn Nets defeated the Toronto Raptors 101-91, Caris LeVert recorded a team-high 20 points

Last night at the Barclays Center was a momentous occasion. The Brooklyn Nets ended the Toronto Raptors 15-game win streak for this season by defeating the Raptors 101-91. With the win, the Nets are inching their way back to surpass the .500 mark. Currently, the Nets are now 25-28 on the season with their victory last night, while the Raptors fell to 40-15 for the season following this loss against the Nets.

How the Brooklyn Nets Won By The Numbers

Brooklyn outrebounded Toronto 55-42 (+13), including a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass

The Nets clipped the Raptors 27-21 in assists.

The Nets outscored the Raptors 50-38 in points in the paint.

Overall, both teams shooting percentages weren’t anything to write home about. The Nets field goal percentage was 40.9 percent (36-of-88), while the Raptors field goal percentage was 37.8 (34-of-90). The Nets also shot 25.7 percent (9-of-35) from three-point land versus the Raptors’ 30.2 percent (13-of-43), and; in the land of free, Brooklyn made 80 percent (20-of-25) of its free-throws, while Toronto hit 76.9 percent (10-of-13) of its buckets from the stripe.

At the end of the first quarter, Brooklyn had a four-point lead over Toronto, 23-19, which marked the fourth time this season that Brooklyn held its opponent under 20 points in an opening quarter. The Nets led the Raptors 52-40 at halftime. Toronto’s 40 points marked the second-fewest Brooklyn has allowed in a first half this season. The team that Brooklyn held to the lowest points at halftime, which was 35 points, was the New Orleans Pelicans with no Zion Williamson, which was on December 17, 2019, at New Orleans.

Going into the fourth quarter, Brooklyn led Toronto 75-65. In previous meetings against Toronto this season, the Nets trailed through three quarters in each of their three previous meetings by a total of 22 points. This is another testament that on any given night, even the elite NBA teams can be beaten by teams who have not reached elite status.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on the intangibles that helped his team defeat the Toronto Raptors

“I think I said it before the game, our compete level, our intensity level has to be three levels higher than them to have an opportunity to win the game, said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought our physicality, the things we were missing in the last two games against them, I thought we just raised that. We wanted it bad. The execution wasn’t perfect, but our will to win was at a super-high level. That’s why we came out with the W.”

“I think the process has been right,” Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris said to the media about the team’s defensive effort against the Toronto Raptors. “Sometimes you get a little fortunate, teams are off. I thought tonight and especially against Indiana we just did a better job contesting every shot. We did a good job scrambling around. A lot of times defense gets broken down, but it’s about the second effort, closing out still getting contests. You know, we just talked about trying to be the more aggressive and assertive team on both ends. Especially when you play against quality teams. That’s usually what dictates the game, who is able to establish as the aggressor early on.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert recorded a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a season-high four steals in 36 minutes against the Toronto Raptors last night. Joe Harris scored 19 points (7-of-12 FG), six rebounds, and two assists in 35 minutes against the Raptors last night; Spencer Dinwiddie posted 17 points, six boards, and a team-high nine assists in 34 minutes; Jarrett Allen hit a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while adding three assists to his points and rebounds total in 20 minutes, and; Garrett Temple also scored in double figures for Brooklyn last night against the Toronto Raptors with 10 points in 25 minutes off the bench.

Toronto Raptors Scoring Leaders

For the Toronto Raptors, Serge Ibaka led all scorers with 28 points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots in 35 minutes; Fred VanVleet posted 22 points in 39 minutes; Pascal Siakam registered 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 37 minutes, and; Kyle Lowery contributed 12 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds in 37 minutes.

Coach Speak: Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on what’s ahead for the Raptors going into the NBA All-Star Break

“I think when you look at it in totality, sitting where we are right now, I think we’re extremely pleased to get to this point,” Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said about his team’s status. “The good news is I think we’ll (have) Marc Gasol back after the break. Norman Powell is pretty close as well. Obviously, that’s what is most important, is to get our team back as a whole. I think our team really battled well with a couple of key guys missing. I think we’ve had a healthy team for two games this season, so we’ve done a nice job of plugging in and picking up. In the big scheme of things, you look at the overall of where you’re sitting, and we have to be pleased with that.”

Kawhi Leonard, who last season, helped lead the Toronto Raptors to win its first-ever NBA Championship, is now with the Los Angeles Clippers. Although a follow-up question was asked of Coach Nurse about the makeup of his team this year without Kawhi Leonard, reading between the lines, the real question continues to be, can the Raptors represent the Eastern Conference and win a consecutive NBA championship?

“Well, I think that we’re hoping that some of these guys have taken some steps forward,” responded Coach Nurse. Obviously Kawhi (Leonard) is a late-game closer on both ends of the floor. Pascal Siakam has to assume that role. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol have kind of stepped forward to assume the secondary role to Pascal Siakam. Fred VanVleet continues to get better. Norman Powell, before he got hurt, was getting better. So probably it’ll be a little more by committee on both ends and trying to figure out matchups. Again, our team has played pretty well. We’ve got some growth to do and we need to do for sure if we want to make a run at it again.”

What’s Next for the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets?

Last night was the last game for both teams before the 2020 NBA All-Star break. The NBA All-Star activities end with the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, February 16, 2020. The Toronto Raptors will host the Phoenix Suns on Friday, February 21, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET, their first game following the NBA All-Star festivities.

Following the NBA All-Star break, the Brooklyn Nets will play two games on the road before they play at home. The Nets will travel to Philadelphia to play the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, February 20, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET, and then on to Charlotte to play the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, February 22, 2020, at 7:00 ET. Next, the Brooklyn Nets will travel home to Brooklyn to take on the Orlando Magic on Monday, February 24, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center.

TIP-INS:

Joe Harris, the 2019 NBA All-Star 3-Point Contest champion, and Spencer Dinwiddie, the 2018 NBA All-Star Skills Contest champion, will represent the Brooklyn Nets during State Farm’s All-Star Saturday night this year. The event will be held on February 15, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET at United Center in Chicago, Illinois and will be broadcast on TNT and ESPN Radio.

 

Best Playoff Atmosphere ever for Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center; Nets played with urgency, but lack of experience got in the Way of Nets Advancement

Just like the Philadelphia 76ers last season was a young and inexperienced team and couldn’t advance as far as they would have liked in the NBA Playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets are finding themselves in a similar predicament. The Nets took Game 1 of this first-round NBA Playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers and lost Games 2, 3, and 4. This is not uncharacteristic for a young NBA team. They made a ton of mistakes like other young teams primarily because of lack of experience. Yesterday, the lack of experience was glaring. The Nets played 3.5 quarters in stellar fashion and looked like they were on the brink of tying the series by winning Game 4. We should be going to Philadelphia with a 2-2 series. However, between 4:11 and 2:09 of the fourth quarter, the Nets turned the ball over four times and the Sixers took advantage of those mistakes, just like the Boston Celtics took advantage of the Philadelphia 76er’s mistakes last season.

Similarly, if the Nets can’t win Game 5 in Philadelphia, it will be a wrap for them this season, but not a lost season. In the last two seasons, the Nets only managed to win 20 and 27 games. This season, the Nets won 42 games and made it to the playoffs and for all tense and purposes did not get swept. The Brooklyn Nets were able to accomplish this feat because the new management under Sean Marks is focused on player development and culture, and to a man, the team is all in. And, Sean Marks has been able to do this with no top draft picks and a first-time coach in Kenny Atkinson. The Nets have taken in guys who many considered to be castaways and because of the culture surrounding the Nets, they have managed to shine quickly.

Last season, Spencer Dinwiddie was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge. This season, Joe Harris beat out Stephen Curry and won the NBA All-Star 3-Point Shooting Contest, and D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was cast out of the Los Angeles Lakers by Magic Johnson in 2017. This season, Russell participated in the NBA All-Star Game 2019 and lately is the talk of the “NBA Town” and looked upon by some as the leader of the Nets team. As the regular NBA season was winding down and Russell was tearing up the scoreboard, the “Brooklyn Brigade/Block” consistently chanted, “Thank You, Magic.”

At the end of the day, the Nets should not feel ashamed about this season. It’s their lack of experience, not heart, that is putting them behind the eight ball.

At the end of yesterday’s playoff game against Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson summed up the outcome: “I think a little bit of our experience, (a) little bit of their length and activity. I think it’s one of their strengths and I thought we got a little out of sorts, had a few turnovers that we didn’t need. We also had a bunch of good looks. I thought we had a bunch of good looks, and they didn’t go down.”

So, what did yesterday’s box score tell us about the Brooklyn Nets top scorers?

Caris LeVert, who was among the Nets starting five in Game 4, scored a team-high 25 points with five rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists and a steal in 42 minutes. D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points, seven rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 21 points and added a team-high eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 32 minutes to his point total. A good game for Allen by the numbers; he recorded his fifth-career game of 20+ points and his first in the postseason. He also turns 21 today. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 18 points (7-of-12 FG) with four rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris, who is usually the Nets best 3-point shooter was 0-for-6 from the 3-point line but chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

How are Nets players feeling about last night’s game, going back to Philadelphia for Game 5, and down 3-1?

“There’s a disappointment losing any game – whether it be home or on the road – especially, when you’re up, five minutes left to go in the game,” Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert responded. “That’s disappointing in itself. But obviously, with the great crowd, we had tonight, we like to protect our home court. So, it was frustrating. But we’ve got another game.”

D’Angelo Russell sounding a bit more optimistic is looking forward to Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“You see two teams out there hungry, trying to compete,’ Russell said. “They sure as hell don’t want to lose to the Brooklyn Nets, and I think we’ve got a chance to beat the Sixers, so it’s just a high-intensity game and that’s what it’s going to look like. It’s going to be hard for all. Bodies are going to be flying. Give each other what we want.”

And, Russell has a game plan, particularly adjusting to Joel Embiid down low clogging the lane.

“I think that’s part of the game plan,” Russell continued. “When these big guys are clogging the lane like that, we’re able to throw over the top and get in and kick it out. When there’s three guys in there, it works in our favor. Like I said, we’ll look at the film, see where the help’s coming from, see where their scouting help is coming from and we capitalize on that. Simple as that.”

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