Friday, April 18, 2014
W2W4: Nets at Raptors, Game 1
By Mike Mazzeo
The Brooklyn Nets face the Toronto Raptors on Saturday afternoon in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series at Air Canada Centre (ESPN/WatchESPN, 12:30 p.m. ET). Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
Kidd’s coaching (playoff) debut: Rookie coach Jason Kidd will be coaching in his first playoff game. How Kidd does in terms of making adjustments and tweaks will be key to the Nets' eventual success or failure -- both in this series and beyond. Raptors coach Dwane Casey was an assistant with the Mavericks when Kidd played in Dallas.
D-Will vs. Kyle Lowry: This is the key matchup in the series. Deron Williams had a down season by his standards, while Lowry was arguably the best point guard in the Eastern Conference (John Wall is the other candidate for that distinction). Lowry commands the attention of the entire defense. In the four regular-season meetings between the two teams, he averaged 22 points and six assists. Williams can turn his season around with a strong showing in the playoffs.
How many minutes for KG? Good question. Kevin Garnett averaged just 20.5 minutes per game during the regular season, and Kidd has said he’d like to keep Garnett at a similar number during the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how much Garnett plays. And when Garnett doesn’t play, how much will we see of Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee? Blatche was a consistent bench performer all season, but Plumlee really came on strong late in his rookie year. Kidd’s minute-allotment at the center position is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Experience gap: The Nets have 570 games of playoff experience on their roster, while the Raptors have just 156. Toronto, though, ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency in 2013-14. The Nets went 34-17 after Jan. 1. The Raptors went 44-22 after trading Rudy Gay in December.
Remember when: The Nets haven’t won a playoff series since 2007, when Kidd led the then-New Jersey Nets over Toronto in six games. Kidd averaged a triple-double in that series.
Could be close: The teams split the season series 2-2. Three of the four games were decided by four points or less. Both games Brooklyn dropped were on the second leg of a back-to-back. There are none of those in the playoffs.
So you’re aware: Courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: There have been 453 best-of-seven series in NBA history. Teams that win Game 1 go on to win the series 77.3 percent of the time. When the home team wins Game 1, that team goes on to win the series 84.8 percent of the time (285-51). When the road team wins Game 1, that team goes on to win the series 55.6 percent of the time (65-52).