Nets, Raptors battle in Game 7
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets will settle their incredibly tight Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in fitting fashion, with a Game 7 Sunday afternoon at Air Canada Centre.
Neither team has won a decisive Game 7 in their franchise history, so something will have to give Sunday in front of the rabid fans both inside and outside Air Canada Centre.
"I still say every game is different," Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. "Sunday's game will be different. It'll be something else we talk about."
The Raptors haven't won a playoff series since 2001, while the Nets have failed to advance since beating these same Raptors in the first round back in 2007.
The need for Game 7 came about after Brooklyn put on an impressive show in front of the Barclays Center crowd Friday night in Game 6. Facing elimination, the Nets came away with a 97-83 triumph to force Sunday's finale.
"Desperate basketball," said Brooklyn center Kevin Garnett. "We had our backs to the wall at home, but there was no way in hell they were going to come here and get a win today."
Deron Williams had 23 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Nets. A tongue-in-cheek "Wanted" poster was hanging up outside the Barclays Center, lamenting Williams' play, but the former All-Star delivered.
And he did so on a bum ankle. Williams sprained his left ankle early in the third quarter, but played through the injury.
The Nets manhandled the Raptors in the interior over the first 12 minutes, posting a 22-4 points in the paint edge before taking a healthy 15-point advantage into the second.
Brooklyn, which outscored Toronto 48-32 in the interior overall, maintained a double-digit lead throughout the remainder of the game despite the Raptors making a big run in the fourth.
Joe Johnson posted 17 points, Garnett provided 13 points and five rebounds and Paul Pierce added 12 points and six boards. Alan Anderson was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Shaun Livingston and finished with nine points and nine boards.
DeMar DeRozan netted 28 points, while Kyle Lowry, who had 36 points in Game 6, was limited to 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting for Toronto.
The Nets led by as many as 26 in the third and took a 79-59 margin into the fourth. The Raptors headed into the final frame with a 22-point bulge in Game 5, but hung on despite Brooklyn tying the game in the closing minutes.
Toronto was unable to flip the script Friday. Lowry concluded a 14-2 swing with a triple to whittle the gap to 86-76 with 5:02 left, but it never got any closer.
And that leads to Sunday afternoon. The Raptors won the Atlantic Division and the third seed in the Eastern Conference and that hard work meant a Game 7 in Toronto.
"We worked for the third seed to get home-court advantage," Lowry said. "We have to take care of home. Home is not going to take care of us."
The winner will advance to meet the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat, starting Tuesday night in South Beach.
05/04 10:34:03 ET