Title: Deep Dive Series Preview: How the Raptors and Nets match up
Date: August 15, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I went deep breaking down the Raptors-Nets first-round series with analytics, rotations, matchups, shot spectrums, and more.
An afternoon start. The Brooklyn Nets. An unexpectedly strong regular season shifting public opinion. Kyle Lowry playing excellent basketball, as questions surround his teammate, the team’s No. 1 scorer.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the Toronto Raptors are back in 2014, when this era of the franchise began. It was six years ago – and change, thanks to the pandemic-induced delay – that Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Dwane Casey lined up across from a veteran-heavy Nets team for Game 1, the Raptors’ first playoff game in half a decade. This time around, Lowry is flanked by the ascendant Pascal Siakam, stalwart Marc Gasol and coach Nick Nurse, standing opposite a Nets team in a holding pattern with two injured superstars.
It’s different now. The Raptors are the favourites and a playoff appearance from them is an accepted inevitability (well). A first-round matchup is not the goal as the team attempts the unlikeliest NBA Championship defence perhaps ever. For a number of reasons, there will be no Masai Ujiri bellowing “Fuck Brooklyn” to a crowded Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena, from the pandemic to the reality that it would be punching down now. The Raptors have travelled far, reached the top and are fighting to stay there, not claw for relevance. It’s a new day, yes it is.
But who doesn’t love a rematch?