Prepping for the Nets
Old 04-17-2014, 10:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Hi all,

First of all, screw the Nets. Raps in 4. All that.

Now, how to make that happen?

This is an exciting time, Raps in the playoffs, with homecourt, and with the best, youngest, most promising team in ages. So I thought I'd take a look back at what we did right and wrong against the Nets this season.

We played them 4 times.

Nov 26th, TOR 100 @ BKN 102 (L)
Jan 11th, BKN 80 @ TOR 96 (W)
Jan 27th, TOR 104 @ BKN 103 (W)
Mar 10th, BKN 101 @ TOR 97 (L)


The first occurred during the dark ages, so we'll ignore that one.

The other three came a) after the trade and b) during the Nets resurgence in the second half of the season. So all three should be able to tell us something about how we match up with the Nets.

So let's look at how those games played out.

Game 2:

Brooklyn had started their resurgence, they'd won 5 in a row, including a road win over the Thunder and two consecutive wins over GSW and MIA. They were on a back to back (having just played the Heat to double overtime). The Raptors had a couple days rest, and were coming off tough losses to MIA and IND and a win against DET.

Obviously the rest played a factor here, but let's look at how the game broke down.

The first Q was close, Ross got in early foul trouble, JV was strong early (rebounds, blocks and getting to the line), with DD and Lowry pulling us into the lead with a couple drives and threes right at the end of the Q.

The bench pulled the game away in the 2nd Q, putting us up by 10. The starters came back in to end the Q, and were fine until they started letting Teletovic go off - the lead shrunk to 5 points on the strength of his perimeter shooting and free throws for Pierce.

TOR started the 3rd Q terribly, scoring 5 points over the first 7.5 minutes. Suddenly, we were down 10. Over this stretch, it was just bad. Missed hook shots from the bigs, a lot of step back and turnaround jumpers from DD and Lowry, and turnovers all over the place. Finally, the team stopped screwing around and drove inside, generating chances from the line. 6 straight points from the free throw line (out of a potential 8) and the game was much closer to end the Q, as DD caught fire and hit a couple jumpers and a layup and the Raps had a small lead back.

The 4th Q was typical for this year - dominating. BRK didn't score for the first 4.5 minutes, as the Raps forced this sequence of sets from BRK:

Turnover
Turnover
Missed Hook Shot
Blocked Layup
Missed 3 pointer
Missed 3 pointer
Blocked Jumper
Missed Jumper

Outside of the 3 pointers, that's a pretty ideal shot distribution from the defense's point of view.

From there it snowballed, and the game was over.

Key contributors in this game:

Patterson. Above and beyond anyone else, the Raps seemed energized when he was on the floor. Solid D and timely spot up jumpers (not at a great clip though) and plentiful rebounding. The Raptors were +40 with him on the floor. Crazy. In general, the bench made a huge difference in this game. Salmons was perfect from the floor, which obviously helps. Lowry and DD were very good as well, with DD providing most of the scoring punch, and at a good efficiency (26 points on 18 shots), and providing his best all around game in quite some time (7 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, a block, only 2 turnovers).

Stats of the game:

TRB%: 55.7% to 44.3% TOR
TS%: .526 to .482 TOR

Game 3:

Brooklyn had continued their resurgence. After losing to the Raps on Jan 11th, they'd won 5 MORE in a row, although less impressively (best win was at home against the Mavs). They were on a back to back (again). The Raptors had one day of rest, and were coming off a loss to the Clippers (Ross' 51 point game).

This is that great game that went down to the wire with the Patterson steal.

This game was not one where the Nets were cold or unable to keep up, so I don't think the back to back was the reason for the win. Raps started the game off hot, hitting threes galore, but the Nets stayed in it with free throws left and right. Lowry's hot shooting had the Raps up 10 early, but that disappeared quick as the bigs missed a few close shots and the Nets caught fire and got to the rim at will. Down 1 after 1.

The bench tread water in the 2nd Q, keeping the game very close even as Teletovic got hot from range. Same goes for the starters when they reentered, as Lowry traded blows with the Nets and the Raps took a 1 point lead into halftime.

You know what? The rest of the game was pretty much more of the same - these two teams punching and counter punching, right to the end, where a clutch steal got the Raps the win.

Key contributors:

Patterson, Novak, Vasquez. The bench was strong again. Lowry was amazing, as he put up 31 points on 18 shots, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals. Note the similarity to DD's game in the first one.

It should be noted that DD missed this game entirely.

Stats of the game:

TRB%: 54.4% to 45.6% TOR
TS%: .594 to .575 BKN

Game 4:

This was more recent. Brooklyn had continued their resurgence, again. They'd won 5 of 6 including wins against the Bulls and Grizzlies. They were on a back to back (AGAIN). The Raptors were also on a back to back in this one, and were on a 3 game win streak themselves.

The game started off like gangbusters, Ross going nuts and hitting everything. Raps took an early 12 point lead, forcing loads of jumpers and contested 3's, as the Nets couldn't hit anything. Bench came in late in the Q and held the lead.

2nd Q bench kept holding steady. Lead was still 7 when the starters came back in, but a barrage of free throws to end the Q got the Nets to within 1 point.

3rd Q was rough. Starters were keeping pace in spite of Ross losing his shooting touch, but then 6 minutes in Ross subbed out for Salmons. Immediately the Nets ended up with 3 straight open 3 pointers (one by Johnson, the other two assisted by Johnson) and the Nets blew open a double digit lead. The Nets subbed out their starters and the bench clawed a few points back for the Raps, but the Q still ended with BRK up 5.

Raps started the 4th Q hot, with mostly bench guys, but BRK had no issues scoring and keeping the lead. Starters came back in with BRK up 2 and with 6 minutes left. Game was tied up with 3 minutes left on the strength of Lowry and DD's scoring (and some decent perimeter defense causing a turnover and a couple missed shots). DD and Lowry kept going, pushing into the lead, losing it (on a Nets 3 pointer and a couple free throws), then pulling back to within 1. Ross then turned the ball over with 26 seconds left (the play where the Raps inexplicably did not call a time out), and the game was just free throws at that point.

Key contributors:

Ross was very solid in this game, scoring a lot early and being solid defensively throughout. The turnover at the end was unfortunate. The starters, when they played without Ross (ie with Salmons/Vasquez) were not very good, and got outscored heavily. Hopefully Ross gets a lot of time in the playoffs. DD was pretty invisible this game, attempting only 9 shots and scoring 14, but credit to him for picking his spots. We'll need to find ways to have him pressure the defense more though. Hansbrough was a firecracker in short spurts - his energy could cause the Nets issues. We were without Patterson this game, the key guy in each of our two wins against them.

Stats of the game:

TRB%: 55.2% to 44.8% TOR
TS%: .604 to .595 BKN

---

So, any thoughts?

Mine are that Patterson being back is great news. Lowry and DD being rested is also great news. Ross getting big minutes would be a good thing for sure. JV has to step up, as does Amir in his small-ball checking role on Pierce.

We NEED to out rebound them heavily (and appear easily able to do so). And we have to make sure we limit their shooting efficiency - in the loss and close win, they shot crazy well. We shoot well too, but if we can take just a small chunk out of that TS%, our rebounding advantage could put us over the top.
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Old 04-17-2014, 10:59 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great recaps Dan. Thanks.

Really hoping to see our Defensive intensity back to where it was a little earlier in the season. We need to avoid allowing Brooklyn any big runs. Lately we always seem to have a terrible run or two in every game where we either squander a big lead or dig a huge hole.

Ross' D on JJ will be important. We can't let him dominate in the post.

On the offensive side...keep the ball moving and don't turn it over. We need to use our athleticism to get out in transition and score some easy baskets.

I'm very excited for this series. Right after the Game 3 against the Nets this year I remember thinking to myself...a playoff series between these two teams would be a lot of fun to watch. I think we're in for a good one. Wish I could make it up to TO for one of the games.
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Old 04-17-2014, 11:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Also, that 80-96 game was Drake night.

The place was electric, and I think that played a factor.
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Also, that 80-96 game was Drake night.

The place was electric, and I think that played a factor.
I think Williams and KG were out that game
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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all those games were B2Bs for Brooklyn, which is pretty important for an old team like the Nets. Bench won't be much of an advantage for us if their starters play 40 minutes (which they can, except for KG and perhaps PP).

Many people continue to say their defense is bad, but I think they will be proven wrong. Not unlike TO, they can defend very well when they choose to do so, but given their age, they picked their spots. I've seen most BKN games than any other team outside TO this season, and in stretches they can be stiffling.
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think Williams and KG were out that game
True. Also, we never played the Nets this season with both Williams and Garnett on the floor.
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't think their is any key strategy to beat the nets other than play more physical, and play more aggresive. Lock down Pierce, Johnson, and Teletovic. Make every shot they take a contested shot over the top. Beat them up and get out and run.
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Old 04-17-2014, 12:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I don't think their is any key strategy to beat the nets other than play more physical, and play more aggresive. Lock down Pierce, Johnson, and Teletovic. Make every shot they take a contested shot over the top. Beat them up and get out and run.
we can by physical, but not offensively - unless we can get JV to dominate.
If JV is not one of the best players in this series, we will lose - we can't out shoot them imo, and demar won't get half the free throws he gets in the regular season.

I think demar will struggle, at least initially, to adjust to a playoff style of game where he will be hacked and shoved with impudence. It's not even that the nets get calls, it's just the games are called differently. Unless you are a big time superstar, you won't get cheap calls in the playoffs in most games.

we'll know a lot more after the first game.
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My keys to the Nets:

1. Aggression on offense. Drive to the basket whenever possible and try to dunk everything - make them defend and establish the reputation of a team deserving to get the whistle. Open threes are fine, but contested fade-aways are not.

2. On defence - we are going to have problems when JJ, Deron or even Livingston are posting up their smaller counterparts. I have no clue on how to defend this without double-teaming in the post (sucks because all three are good passers), but ball denial sounds like a plan. Regardless, both bigs must be ready to help-rotate on a short notice. At the same time, some players (Pierce, Williams, Teletovich) must never be left alone, no matter what's happening elsewhere on the court. When those are spacing out at the three point line - stay glued to them!
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Old 04-17-2014, 01:47 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have confidence in Casey coming up with a good defensive scheme against the Nets. We'll see how we execute. I am flirting with the idea that some kind of zone might work well against the Nets.

They do have a lot of experience but it remains to be seen how much gas they have.

Offensively I don't worry that much, our team seems to be in a very good shape right now, as if they've peaked at the right time, shooting the ball at a high percentage.

I would not be surprised at all if we lose, wouldn't be surprised if we win or even sweep them. For all the talk about experience and veteran team, Raptors have shown this season a lot of things that could cancel or at least offset that. Raptors have played smart, unselfish ball ever since the trade and have shown resilience and consistency in terms of accepting every single challenge. That mindset that our players shown gives me confidence.

We just need to win that first game, just put that final stamp of approval on the fact that this is a good group of guys, talented, unselfish, hard working, physical and well coached. That should erase any type of nervousness, over-excitement.


Quote:
2. On defence - we are going to have problems when JJ, Deron or even Livingston are posting up their smaller counterparts. I have no clue on how to defend this without double-teaming in the post (sucks because all three are good passers), but ball denial sounds like a plan. Regardless, both bigs must be ready to help-rotate on a short notice. At the same time, some players (Pierce, Williams, Teletovich) must never be left alone, no matter what's happening elsewhere on the court. When those are spacing out at the three point line - stay glued to them!
May I be so rude to flip this?
Who on the Nets will have the energy and focus to chase T-Ross through those screens?
Who on the Nets will deal with DD? He has a lot of tools, including post-up game.
What about JV? He could destroy them on his own.
And Kyle will be a huge problem for them.

My only worry is the whistle. That could be the only real advantage for the Nets.
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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There is nothing easy in the playoff. If we are not aggressive in every aspect of the game, we will lose this series. Here are the things we must do in my humble opinion :
1- JV MUST stay out of foul trouble.
2- Ross has to let the game come to him and stop forcing issues.
3- Casey must not break the offencive flow of any player under the justification of resting him.
4- FANS MUST NOT STOP SUPPORTING THE RAPS.
5- Home court, if we lose the home court, I am sorry to say : We will lose.

Raps in 6 or 7
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Don't think anyone will argue #5 there ...
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:21 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I have a very sick feeling that John Salmons will cost is a game in this series.

The guy cannot do anything under pressure and if he's left to guard Old Man Pierce or given the responsibility to make any kind of late-game play, he will likely blow it.

Each game of this series is going to be really close, and he simply can't perform when depended on.
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:35 PM   #14 (permalink)
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our one undeniable advantage is legs. run, run, run. exhaust pierce and garnett. play 9 or 10 guys, and never stop.
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I have a very sick feeling that John Salmons will cost is a game in this series.
I have a feeling he will good the first couple games. He hasn't played much lately and his shot is starting to fall. Between games 1&2 there is two days off and he plays better with rest. He will likely fade as the series goes on, but not sure he'll cost us a game.
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Old 04-17-2014, 02:44 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I have a feeling he will good the first couple games. He hasn't played much lately and his shot is starting to fall. Between games 1&2 there is two days off and he plays better with rest. He will likely fade as the series goes on, but not sure he'll cost us a game.
Salmons preforms well when he has at least 1-2 days rest in-between games. Almost all of the first 5 games are a minimum 1-2 days apart so he should be fresh for each game....downside is that so will BKN ageing roster
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Old 04-17-2014, 03:07 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Salmons preforms well when he has at least 1-2 days rest in-between games. Almost all of the first 5 games are a minimum 1-2 days apart so he should be fresh for each game....downside is that so will BKN ageing roster
Correction: Salmons plays well with 3+ days rest. And OK with 2 days rest. And terribly with 1 or less days rest. So he should be strong for the opener, and passable for most of the series (2, 3 and 5 all have 2 game rests beforehand), but should probably have his minutes cut big time in game 4 and 6 and 7, as they will probably be closer together.
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Old 04-17-2014, 03:29 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I think JV will do well in the playoffs, he doesn't seem to get intimidated easily from "big names" and probably doesn't even know what KG was like in his prime lol, Bosh on the other hand always got scared, and wasn't himself against KG.
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Old 04-17-2014, 03:43 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I think it's important for JV not to be outplayed by Plumlee (which has happened this year) and for Lowry not to be outplayed at the pg spot. But I don't think either has to be carrying anything offensively. The key will be defense; don't give up anything easy to Brooklyn and run, run, run on this misses.
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Old 04-17-2014, 03:53 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Take care of the defensive boards (Brooklyn 29th in rebounding) and run it down their throats. If at all possible get Blatch and Garnett in foul trouble in the process.

This team should be prepared, between Casey and then MU giving an inspiring speach there is no shortage of guidance and motivation.
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