Road teams win Game 7s in the NBA playoffs only about 20 percent of the time, but the numbers were right for the Brooklyn Nets, who edged the Toronto Raptors in a thrilling Game 7 on Sunday afternoon.
It is the first Game 7 win for the Nets as an NBA team. They advance to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Key player: Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points, 10 of which came when DeMar DeRozan was his primary defender. Nine of those points came in the second half.
Johnson was 4-for-7 from the field in Game 7 when guarded by DeRozan and 25-for-41 (61 percent) when matched against him in the series. He shot 46 percent when defended by anyone else.
Pierce, who finished with 10 points, has played in nine Game 7s in his career. Ray Allen (11) is the only active player who has played in more.
Pierce has scored 180 points in Game 7s in his career. The only player to score more than that in the last 40 years is Larry Bird (216).
Marcus Thornton scored 17 points for the Nets on Sunday, as the Nets' bench outscored the Raptors' bench, 38-23.
Thornton scored a combined 17 points on 6-of-21 shooting in the first six games of the series.
Stat of the Day: The coach
The Elias Sports Bureau came through with this amazing note on Nets coach Jason Kidd:
Kidd is the 19th first-year head coach to appear in a Game 7 on the road, and the first to win.
The previous 18 first-year NBA head coaches lost by an average margin of 11.2 points in those games.
Raptors can’t score outside paint
Although the Raptors outscored the Nets 56-40 inside the paint, they shot 25.9 percent outside the paint Sunday, their third-lowest percentage this season.
The Nets went 4-0 against their next opponent, the Miami Heat, in the regular season. That’s the most wins any team has had against the Heat in a season in the last four seasons.
The Nets beat the Heat by one point three times this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to beat the same opponent by one point three times in the same season was the 1979-80 Suns over the Trail Blazers.