Join Date: Aug 2008
Raptors Daily Dish | Playoff Edition | Game 5
Its a little too quiet around here considering this is so far, our best playoff performance since 2001.......
Game 5 PREVIEW: Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets – 3 keys to win
Game 5 PREVIEW: Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors gave away home-court advantage to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference quarter-final. However, they seized it back with a road victory in Game 4, and can move on by taking tonight’s game, plus Game 7 (if needed) at the Air Canada Centre.
I doubt we’ll see either team struggle to the extent they did in Brooklyn during Game 4. The Raps shot dreadfully in the third quarter, and the Nets returned the favour in Q4. Assuming something like normalcy prevails, we’ll see a repeat of Game 2, in which the Raps pulled away in the game’s final minutes. The Raps’ injuries are a major concern, although having several days between games has to be helpful for Kyle Lowery and Amir Johnson. It’s perhaps odd that the youthful Raps are banged up, while the aged Nets appear healthy, but such are the vagaries of sports.
What do the Raps need to do in Game 5 to seize the series lead? If I’m whispering in coach Dwane Casey’s ear, I suggest we:
run some early isolation plays for Terrence Ross. He’s got to come out of his funk if we’re going to win this thing, and “getting off the schneid” (as Jack Armstrong says when a player scores his first points of the game) will do wonders for his frayed nerves.
place Amir closer to the basket. I don’t like him at the top of the key. He’s not comfortable with more than two dribbles before shooting, and he’s vulnerable to being stripped of the ball when he tries.
switch more aggressively on Deron Williams. The Nets guard was trying to slip around foul line screens to receive passes, and was successful several times. Assuming TRoss is covering him, but getting picked, Jonas Valanciunas will need to step higher in the key. The Nets guard play is critical to their offense, as they aren’t getting much from their bigs. Forcing our bigs to provide help defense is a smart tactic on the part of coach Jason Kidd, as it will free up Kevin Garnett.
The Raps are in the Nets’ heads, and can stay there, assuming we get production from all the starters. The bench has not been a problem; Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson have made large contributions. The Raps will keep the initiative with a 97-95 win.
vs. Brooklyn Nets - 3 keys to win - Raptors
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Raptors ready for 'street fight' vs. Nets in Game 5
Raptors ready for 'street fight' vs. Nets in Game 5 - CBC Sports - Basketball - NBA
Raptors 'superfan' predicts slim Game 5 victory over Nets
The Toronto Raptors act like a team that doesn't get any respect.
Toronto likes it that way, thank you very much, thriving in the underdog environment fostered by coach Dwane Casey.
The Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round series on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET), having regained home-court advantage with an 87-79 victory on Sunday.
Charles Barkley, the former NBA All-Star turned TV analyst, has said the Raptors were ''underrated all year'' and picked them to eliminate the Nets. And even though he's still struggling to properly pronounce the name of Lithuanian centre Jonas Valanciunas, Barkley reiterated his belief on a recent broadcast.
Casey surely appreciates Barkley's support. But conscious of avoiding complacency and overconfidence among his players, the coach was preaching a familiar message of toughness and desperation after the Raptors practised Tuesday.
''It's not going to be all smiles and bubble gum and fruitcakes tomorrow night, it's going to be a street fight,'' Casey said. ''And that's the way we've got to come out, with that mentality.''
Such statements are almost commonplace with Casey. Before a late-season game against New York, with the Knicks still pursuing a playoff berth, Casey urged his team to be wary of an opponent that was ''going to come and hit you in the head with a hammer."
All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan, who has averaged 28 points since a disappointing playoff debut, said Casey's scrappy imagery has become part of Toronto's mindset.
''We're like a fighter who worked his butt off in training camp,'' DeRozan said. ''He can fight, but he's going into every fight as the underdog and everybody is going against him. That's how we feel, that's our mentality.''
Forward Amir Johnson agreed, calling Casey's approach a ''huge'' motivation.
''When people doubt us, that's what we want,'' Johnson said. ''That's what we feed off. People doubt us and think we can't do it, that's what gets us energized and that's when we prove them wrong.''
Here are five things to watch in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Air Canada Centre:
Bad after the break
The Raptors may lack the playoff experience of the veteran Nets, but they've outplayed their opponents in every fourth quarter since Game 1. More troublesome to Toronto has been its poor play in the third, where the Raptors have been outscored by a combined 27 points, coming up short in every game. Maybe Casey should save one of his stir 'em up speeches until halftime. ''The third quarter has been our nemesis,'' Casey said. ''That's what we've got to remedy, is coming out of the locker room at halftime with that type of desperate disposition.''
Will Deron deliver?
In the Nets' two wins, Deron Williams has scored 22 and 25 points, respectively. In the two losses, he's scored 15 and, on Sunday, a series-low 10. The better the game it gets from Williams, the better Brooklyn's chances are. ''He's in the driver's seat, he's our point guard,'' Nets forward Paul Pierce said Tuesday. ''We feed off of him a lot. When he's been aggressive, taking the ball to the basket and getting shots up, that seems to bode well for all of us.''
The Nets ranked fourth in the NBA this season with 8.6 steals per game, and are second among playoff teams so far with an average of nine per game. Turnovers have been a problem for the Raptors, who had 59 through the first three games. But Toronto controlled the ball better in Game 4, finishing with 12 turnovers, while Brooklyn's six steals and 16 turnovers were both series-worsts. ''It was kind of flipped the last game,'' Williams said. ''We were the ones turning the ball over and didn't cause enough.''
Brooklyn reserve Alan Anderson (groin) did not practice Tuesday, and his status for Wednesday's game is unclear. Toronto reserve Landry Fields, who sat out Sunday's game with a sore back, returned to practice. Casey said the Raptors are banged up, but everyone is available. This is the third time the teams have had two days off between games. There will only be one day off before Game 6 in Brooklyn on Friday, and one day again if Game 7 is necessary Sunday in Toronto.
Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett said the Nets had not yet spoken about whether they would make some sort of protest against Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life Tuesday for making racist comments. DeRozan, however, said the Raptors intended to find some way to show their displeasure, as other teams have done by turning their warm-up shirts inside out. ''We're going to do something,'' DeRozan said. ''We're all united. They're all our peers. We're all going to stick together through any situation.'
As the Raptors prepare for their fifth playoff game, the team’s self-proclaimed biggest fan is predicting Toronto will beat the Brooklyn Nets, but the game will be close.
Nav Bhatia describes himself as a Raptors "superfan." Bhatia owns 10 season tickets that he has purchased every year since the team's debut in 1995.
The 62-year-old has never missed a regular-season home game, and spends about $300,000 per year on tickets.
Bhatia owns a luxury car dealership, selling models from Bentley, Lexus, Porsche and more, but he said his true passion is for Canada's only NBA team.
"I love this game of basketball and I love the players," Bhatia told CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday.
He even helped player Jonas Valanciunas with his English when the team's centre moved to Canada from Lithuania.
"I feel like I'm their dad," he said. "Like Jonas (Valanciunas) came two years ago. He didn't speak English well, he needed a lot of help. I guided him along whenever I could with him."
"We have a relationship of a dad and son."
Bhatia's presence at the games has not gone unnoticed. The New York Times published an article on Bhatia's passion last week, after a reporter noticed him on the sidelines, shouting to Knicks players that they were washed up.
"Whatever I'm doing, I'm in to the game," he said.
Sharing his predictions, Bhatia said that the game Wednesday night will be tough, but he expects the Raptors will win by two or three points.
'superfan' Nav Bhatia predicts slim Game 5 victory over Brooklyn Nets