Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets: Series Preview
The NBA Playoffs are finally here and the defending champion Toronto Raptors start their chase of a repeat with a matchup against the seventh-seeded Brooklyn Nets.
After battling through injuries all season, the Raptors are finally healthy in the bubble. Over the regular season, they showed they can still be contenders, even without 2019 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
It’s a different story for the Brooklyn Nets entering the bubble. The Nets entered Orlando with several players missing.
Even though the Nets are a skeleton of themselves, they came into the bubble and proved they can still compete with the best of them, compiling a record of five wins and three losses.
These teams both had two very different journeys to get to these 2020 playoffs. Let’s see how they match up against each other.
The Raptors have proven many people wrong this season after finishing second in the Eastern Conference with a 53-19 record. This gave the Raptors their highest winning percentage in franchise history.
After losing Kawhi in the off-season, many thought the Raptors were no longer going to be a contender in the eastern conference. With Nick Nurse establishing himself as one of the very best coaches in the NBA, Pascal Siakam emerging as a potential superstar, and a very deep squad behind him, they proved that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Key to Winning the Series: Just be themselves
With all of the talent the Raptors have against this Brooklyn Nets team, they just need to simply be themselves.
If the Raptors just do what they have been doing this whole season, there shouldn’t be any trouble against the Nets.
The Raps have more talent, playoff experience, better coaching, more depth and are hungry for a repeat. This series should be a cakewalk if they do the simple things right.
Key Player: Pascal Siakam
The reigning NBA Most Improved Player is the guy that the Raptors will lean on the most this season.
We saw Siakam have a very good playoff run last season and the Raptors would love to see him build off of it this season.
This is the first playoff run where Siakam will be the number one option for the Raptors and it’s going to be interesting to see how he handles all the attention from opposing defenses.
He’ll also have a bunch of great role players alongside him if he struggles, but this is his team now and the Raptors expect him to show that on the court.
They already knew that Durant would be unavailable for the whole season. Irving had also missed extended periods of time with injuries.
During the COVID-19 hiatus, many players on the Nets contracted COVID-19 and others feel uncomfortable continuing the season. This is what led to their roster being so depleted for these playoffs.
Despite that, The Nets still went 5-3 in the bubble. This was good enough to surpass the Orlando Magic to gain the seventh seed.
The Nets are a team playing with house money and want to prove to the NBA that they deserve to be in these playoffs.
Can they do it?
Key to Winning the Series: The three-ball
Since entering the bubble, the Nets are fourth place in three-point attempts and have shot over 36% from behind the arc. Not great, but not bad either.
Joe Harris, Garrett Temple and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have been shooting the three-ball well since entering the bubble. Depth perception has been a big factor behind increased shooting percentages in the seeding games, and the Nets shooters have reaped the benefits.
If all three can keep it up in this series it could give the Raptors a tough time.
Key Player: Caris LeVert
Caris LeVert has really stepped up in the absence of the Nets’ best players and the NBA took notice.
He made the NBA All-Bubble Second Team and is a big reason why the Nets have had a successful trip to Orlando so far.
LeVert has also made quite the impression on the Toronto Raptors this season.
He had a 37-point effort against the Raptors earlier this season, nearly leading the Nets to a victory.
If the Nets want any chance at getting passed the defending champs, LeVert needs to be the best player on the court.
The Brooklyn Nets are no team to be taken lightly. They are taking on these playoffs with house money and have absolutely no expectations. This could be worrisome for the Raptors.
With that being said, the Raptors are better than this Nets team in every single category of the game.
LeVert could lead the Nets to one win, but that’s all they’ll be able to muster up against the champs.
This series tips off Monday, August 17th at 4.pm. Be sure to tune in as these teams usually play some exciting basketball against each other.
Toronto Raptors def. Brooklyn Nets in Game Five