Brooklyn wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Brooklyn wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, April 19th
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd
Game 3: Friday, April 25th
Game 4: Sunday, April 27th
Game 5: Wednesday, April 30th
Game 6: Friday, May 2nd
Game 7: Sunday, May 4th

Nets 94

(44-38, 16-25 away)

Raptors 87

(48-34, 26-15 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    12:30 PM ET, April 19, 2014

    Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

    1 2 3 4 T
    BKN 29 21 17 2794
    TOR 21 25 16 2587

    Top Performers

    BKN: J. Johnson 24 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl

    Tor: K. Lowry 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 8 Ast, 2 Stl

    Nets-Raptors Preview

    TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Raptors won the Atlantic Division and set a franchise record with 48 wins. They've still been labeled the weakest of the top four playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.

    The Nets may think so. Brooklyn dropped four of its last five games, with coach Jason Kidd resting his regulars in a 29-point loss to Cleveland on the final night of the season, as the Nets slid from fifth to sixth in the East, earning a first-round meeting with the Raptors and avoiding fourth-seeded Chicago.

    "I like right where we are. A good place," Kidd said after the seeding was confirmed.

    The Nets may be happy, but the third-seeded Raptors aren't too pleased at the portrayal.

    "It would tick me off if that was the case," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said Thursday when asked for his opinion on Brooklyn's alleged strategy of tanking. "If they did, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for."

    Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri was also feisty, saying he and his team "haven't lost one second of sleep worrying about the Brooklyn Nets."

    "They can do whatever they want," Ujiri said Thursday. "We'll be right here."

    Toronto (48-34) and Brooklyn (44-38) split four meetings during the regular season, with each team winning once on the opponent's court.

    Kidd insisted health, not seeding, was the motivation for his lineup choices late in the season, and Brooklyn forward Paul Pierce played down the topic of tanking and hurt feelings after the Nets practiced Friday.

    "If we angered them or whatever, that's for them to figure out," Pierce said. "Everybody's going to try and use something for bulletin board motivation. To me, the motivation is a championship."

    Here are five things to watch in the series between the Nets and Raptors:

    ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?: Brooklyn has the overwhelming edge in playoff experience. Three Toronto starters (All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan, second-year guard Terrence Ross and second-year center Jonas Valanciunas) have never played in the postseason. Pierce alone has started 136 playoff games, while the Raptors' combined roster has played in 156. "They're a veteran team; they've seen it all," Casey said of the Nets. "They've seen every scheme and coverage you can throw at them. We're going to have to mix it up."

    PUSH THE TEMPO: Brooklyn's experience can also be a disadvantage. Pierce is 36, and Kevin Garnett is almost 38. Toronto's oldest starter is 28-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry, while DeRozan is 24, Ross 23 and Valanciunas 21. Casey said his team's biggest edge is in "speed, athleticism and energy," and DeRozan agreed. "It's hard to keep up chasing a guy like Terrence Ross off two, three screens," he said. "We've got to use our youth to our advantage."

    COACHING CONNECTION: Casey and Kidd, both making their playoff debuts as head coaches, have a championship history together from their days in Dallas. Casey was an assistant coach and Kidd the star point guard for the Mavericks team that upset Miami in the 2011 Finals. The two men remain friends. Casey said Friday that he wasn't surprised to see Kidd reach the playoffs in his first season as an NBA coach, saying, "Jason was always a step ahead of the curve." Kidd was equally complimentary when asked about his former coach, the architect of Dallas' formidable defense. "He's a great teacher," Kidd said. "He's as good as they come, on and off the court."

    GOOD GUARDS: Casey calls Lowry the most important player on the Raptors' roster, and he's got a compelling matchup with Nets point guard Deron Williams. "He's our engine. He's our spirit. He's our toughness," Casey said. "He sets the tone for everything we do on both ends of the floor." Lowry counts himself as a fan of Williams' game. "I like everything he does," Lowry said. "He can score. He can shoot, pass, handle. He's creative."

    WE MEET AGAIN: This is a rematch, under strikingly similar circumstances, of a first-round series from the 2007 playoffs. That year, the sixth-seeded New Jersey Nets upset the third-seeded Raptors, surprise winners of the Atlantic Division, in six games, with Kidd averaging a triple-double for the Nets. Neither team has won a playoff series since, both losing in the first round in their lone appearance.


    Research Notes

    Point spreads for today/tonight's NBA playoff games at LVH: Raptors -3.5 over Nets (WAS Raptors -2.5) Thunder -7.5 over Grizzlies (WAS Thunder -7) Pacers -7.5 over Hawks (WAS Pacers -7) Clippers -7 over Warriors
    Flashback opportunity for the Eastern Conference... The last time the Wizards and Raptors were in the playoffs was both in 2007-08... It truly was a long time ago, Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani were in Toronto and the Wizards were led by Gilbert Arenas, Antwan Jamison and Caron Butler... That season the Raptors faced Dwight Howard and the Magic, while Washington faced LeBron James and the Cavaliers...both Toronto and Washington got bounced in the first round too... Chris Bosh was the only player on both 2007-08 teams who is currently in the playoffs THIS season...
    Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter on 4-for-5 shooting. Seven of those nine points were scored when Patrick Patterson was the primary defender.
    The Nets were 4-of-24 (16.7 percent) from the 3-point line Saturday, tied for the fourth-lowest 3-point field goal percentage by a winning team in the playoffs in the last 25 seasons (minimum 20 attempts). It's also the fourth-lowest 3-point percentage by the Nets in a playoff win in the last 25 seasons.
    The Raptors got 16 points from their bench in the 1st half. During the regular season, the Raptors were 28th in bench scoring (26.2 PPG).
    Kevin Garnett was held scoreless in a 1st half for the first time in his playoff career (132 games).
    Jonas Valanciunas already has a double-double in his first career playoff game. He is the 2nd Raptor to post a double-double in their playoff debut. The other was Tracy McGrady on April 23, 2000 against the Knicks. He had 25 points and 10 rebounds in a loss.
    The Raptors scored half of their transition points in the fourth quarter and took a 76-75 lead on a Greivis Vasquez transition three with just over five minutes to play. The Raptors were in transition 10.1% of the time during the regular season, last in the NBA, but missed only one transition shot on Saturday.
    DeMar DeRozan was 3-for-13 from the floor Saturday, including 1-for-9 on jump shots. DeRozan averaged 9.6 points per game on jump shots during the regular season, tied for seventh best in the NBA.

    ESPN Stats & Information