The Brooklyn Nets held on to defeat the Toronto Raptors in game 1 of their eastern conference quarterfinal series, 94-87 on Saturday afternoon. With the win, Brooklyn has now stolen home court advantage from Toronto, which means if they don’t lose a game at home, they will win the series. The Nets were led by Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, who had 24 points each, but their best player in the 4th quarter was Paul Pierce, who scored 9 of his 15 points in the quarter. Kyle Lowry scored 22 for Toronto.
This was a very encouraging performance from Brooklyn because they were able to get a win on a day when their shots were not falling. The Nets shot just 4-24 from 3 in this game despite the 3-point shot being such a huge part of their offense in the regular season. Additionally, a couple of key players were in foul trouble for much of the game and the Nets still were able to win on the road.
Moving forward to game 2, the Nets have the clear advantage in the series. However, they need to remember that last year they also won game 1 of the series and still lost. Game 2 is much more important for Toronto than it is for Brooklyn so we will see if they can pick up another win against a more desperate team.
Player grades and notes:
Paul Pierce: A
Pierce was quiet all game and couldn’t get any good looks. That is, until the fourth quarter. Pierce exploded for 9 points in the final period, hitting a 3 that broke the Nets’ streak of 19 straight missed 3’s, and also hitting a shot clock buzzer beating dagger. Pierce shows up when it matters and that’s all that counts.
Kevin Garnett: C
Garnett really struggled for most of the night. He gave up too many offensive rebounds to Jonas Valanciunas, he was missing jump shots he would normally make, and he even missed free throws. The Nets will need to stop Valanciunas to win this series and Garnett should be able to contain him because he really not that good and is inexperienced. I’m expecting more from KG in game 2.
Deron Williams: A-
Deron Williams was the surprise of the game for me. I did not expect him to play as well as Kyle Lowry and he did. He scored 18 points in the first half and was really most of the Nets’ offense. He only had 6 in the second half, but other players showed up then. I am encouraged by this game 1 performance, especially considering Deron looked tired in April.
Joe Johnson: A
Joe was probably Brooklyn’s MVP over the course of the whole game. He scored when needed in each quarter and took very good, high percentage shots. He finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, on 8-13 shooting and he also made clutch free throws in the final minute. The Raptors weren’t giving Joe many good 3-point looks, so instead he went to posting up and hitting floaters in the paint. They were very effective.
Shaun Livingston: B+
Livingston had a pretty quiet game and he was in foul trouble, but he still finished with 10 points. His midrange jump shot is deadly. His defense on DeMar DeRozan was excellent.
The Nets can’t expect to win another game this series unless somebody on the bench steps up. Alan Anderson was the leading bench scorer today with just 6 points. The Nets’ bench and depth has been one of their biggest strengths all season and they did not show up tonight.
Game 2 of this series will be on Tuesday night in Toronto. FRWD will have full coverage of that game.
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