NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 25th (All times Eastern)
(3) Toronto Raptors (1-1) at (6) Brooklyn Nets (1-1), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Brooklyn Nets return to the Barclays Center on Friday night and will try and take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series with the Toronto Raptors.
Brooklyn took Game 1 in Toronto on Saturday, then the Raptors, the Atlantic Division champions, knotted the quarterfinal set with a 100-95 victory Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.
Now the series shifts to Brooklyn where the Nets have won three of four meetings since the team moved to the New York borough before last season. Toronto did earn a tough one-point victory at the Barclays Center on Jan. 27.
"We've got to expect that it's [going to be] a hostile crowd, as it should be," Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. "It's on their home floor. It's like that when we play at home, too. We understand that."
In Game 2, DeRozan shook off a 3-for-13 shooting performance from Game 1 with 30 points to lead the Raptors. He buried a pair of clutch jumpers late, with the first breaking an 85-85 tie with 2:45 left and the next extending the lead to four on the ensuing possession.
"Brooklyn did a heck of a job on DeMar in Game 1, but we made adjustments to get him open looks," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
Amir Johnson aided Toronto's cause with 16 points and nine rebounds, with Jonas Valanciunas posting 15 points and 14 boards in the Raptors' first playoff win since 2008.
Joe Johnson paced the Nets with 18 points and Deron Williams netted 15 in the loss. Paul Pierce, who scored nine points in the final three minutes in Brooklyn's 94-87 Game 1 triumph, managed just seven while going 2-of-11 from the field.
Crunch time in Game 1 belonged to the future Hall of Famer in Pierce. In Game 2, it was Toronto's All-Star, DeRozan. He poured in 17 fourth-quarter points despite picking up his fifth foul with 7:13 remaining.
DeRozan drained a pull-up 20-footer to put the Raptors up 87-85 with under three minutes to go, then sank a tough fall-away shot moments later after Pierce misfired on the other end for a four-point edge.
Brooklyn hung tough and got within two on three occasions, most notably when Pierce converted a 3-point play with 59.7 seconds left to cut the lead to 92-90.
DeRozan then lost the ball out of bounds for Toronto's 21st turnover of the night, but Pierce missed a good look from beyond the arc on the Nets' next trip. The Raptors grabbed the rebound and DeRozan was fouled with 20.6 seconds to go, hitting both to make it a 94-90 game.
After the teams traded baskets, Pierce missed another 3-point try before DeRozan sealed it with two more free throws with 11.9 seconds showing.
"Paul had a chance to make a shot, it didn't go in," Nets coach Jason Kidd remarked. "Toronto made stops, but Saturday we made the stops. Whoever gets the stops will win the game."
Kyle Lowry scored 14 for the Raptors, followed by 12 from Patrick Patterson and 11 out of Greivis Vasquez.
Mirza Teletovic netted 14 off the bench for the Nets. Kevin Garnett chipped in 13 in 19:04 of action and Shaun Livingston had 12.
Game 4 is Sunday night in Brooklyn.
04/25 10:34:21 ET