EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston believes there are two big keys to stealing Wednesday night’s pivotal Game 5 on the road in Toronto: staying focused and staying together.
“Obviously we’re going back to their building,” Livingston said. “It gets rowdy. They have homecourt. But we have got to stay focused on the game and stay together and not get ahead of ourselves.”
In a hostile environment like Air Canada Centre, getting off to a good start and silencing the home fans early is going to be extremely important. The Nets can’t allow the Raptors to explode for 35 points on 61.9 percent shooting like they did in the first quarter of Game 4.
“When you lose games and you look back and say you were flat and you didn’t have enough energy, it’s definitely an issue,” Nets point guard Deron Williams said. “So we can’t let that happen.”
But of the utmost importance is making sure to finish in the fourth quarter, something Brooklyn hasn’t done in the last three games of the series. Over the last three final periods, the Nets are being outscored 88-66, while shooting just 34 percent from the field with 13 total turnovers. Game 1 hero Paul Pierce (3-for-9 field goals) and Williams (1-for-8) have struggled during that span.
“We’ve gotta play 48 minutes, for us that’s what we’ve gotta continue to do is understand that Toronto’s not gonna stop laying, down or up, so we’ve gotta take that same approach,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
Brooklyn needs continue winning the turnover battle (17.8 to 11.8) and staying close on the glass (43.8 to 34.8). If Toronto double-teams Joe Johnson (seven points on seven shots in Game 4) -- as its done throughout the series -- other guys need to step up and make the Raptors pay. Containing Kyle Lowry (18.3 ppg) and DeMar DeRozan (24.5 ppg) is also a must. It sounds simple. It isn’t. But it’s up to the Nets to go out there and execute.
The Game 5 winner of a tied best-of-7 series goes on to win the series 83.0 percent of the time (142-29), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Nets, with their payroll in excess of $190 million, were constructed to come up victorious in a game like this one -- with so much on the line.
“Every game is big, but sometimes swing games have a little more importance and this is a swing game,” Kidd said. “So understanding that we’ve got to find a way to win on the road. Any games from this point on are all big, so hopefully we can come back with the W.”
If not, they’ll be one loss away from elimination.