NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, May 2nd (All times Eastern)
(3) Toronto Raptors (3-2) at (6) Brooklyn Nets (2-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors will try to win a playoff series for just the second time in franchise history Friday night when they visit the Barclays Center for Game 6 against the Brooklyn Nets.
The only time the Raptors advanced in the postseason came in 2001 when they defeated the New York Knicks, 3-2. They fell to the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals that year, but since have failed to get out of the first round the three other times they made the playoffs.
"I think we understand the intensity, we've learned that," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after practice on Thursday. "It's hard in this league because so much is on the line. We're a young team. It's a positive for these guys to go through this."
The Raptors took the series lead with a 115-113 home win on Wednesday. Any win is important, but Toronto watched a 26-point lead evaporate before finally securing the victory.
"We did everything wrong you could think of in the fourth quarter," Casey said. "This was a learning experience."
The Nets appeared ready to pack it in as they began the fourth quarter in a 91-69 hole and had Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett watching from the bench. Somehow, the combination of Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and an unproven bench totaled 44 points over the final 12 minutes to make things very interesting.
Mirza Teletovic opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play on the ensuing possession to jump-start a 19-3 run that trimmed the Nets' deficit to 97-91.
Johnson knocked down an open 3-pointer with 3:19 left to pull even at 101-101, and it was knotted at 106-106 prior to a huge 3-pointer from Toronto's Kyle Lowry.
Two DeMar DeRozan free throws stretched the margin to 113-108, though Alan Anderson's second four-point play of the quarter gave the Nets hope inside 10 seconds to play.
After DeRozan sank two clutch free throws for a three-point game, the Raptors fouled Andray Blatche, who made his first free throw and grabbed his own rebound after intentionally missing the second. Blatche's pass back to the top of the key, however, went over Williams' head and into the backcourt for a violation, and the Raptors barely hung on for the win.
"Hopefully, this put us on high alert," said Casey.
Lowry led the way with 36 points behind six 3-pointers, including the gigantic go-ahead one with 1:04 remaining. DeRozan added 23 points and Jonas Valanciunas chipped in with 16 for Toronto,
Johnson paced Brooklyn with 30 points, Teletovic added 17 off the bench while Williams and Anderson each netted 13 in the setback.
"The guys fought," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said. "They put us in a position to win on the road, but we didn't do the little things."
If the Nets can force Game 7, it will be on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre. If Toronto prevails on Friday, the Raptors will meet the Miami Heat in the second round.
05/02 10:42:28 ET