Title: Raptor Recalibration, Game 2: Nets fight back, key stats, matchups, Masai, more
Date: August 19, 2020
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, my playoff day-after playoff column looked at the Raptors going up 2-0 on the Nets in the first round.
The Brooklyn Nets aren’t going down quietly.
One day after the league’s two No. 1 seeds were upset, the Nets tried to pull off their own surprise in their No. 2 vs. No. 7 series with the Toronto Raptors. After a Game 1 drubbing that was only faintly in doubt for a few minutes, Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn altered their base defence significantly. Instead of Jarrett Allen dropping back liberally in pick-and-roll, he was either staying a little higher or switching those actions altogether, a dramatically different look for Brooklyn’s normally conservative approach.
The Raptors expected this to some degree, even if Fred VanVleet joked that “hell no” he wasn’t hoping his hot shooting night would force an adjustment. The Nets felt they gave up too many high 3s for the Raptors’ guards and made major changes to fundamentally shift the Raptors’ shot profile as a result. The Raptors hit far fewer 3s in Game 2, and while VanVleet and Kyle Lowry still did the damage, they did so under tougher circumstances.
It was nearly enough to steal one from the defending champs. Toronto hung on for a 104-99 victory thanks in large part to their defence and some changes to their own approach against Brooklyn’s scheme later in the game, prioritizing the rim. We thought coming in that the Nets would have to shoot the lights out to make this a gentleman’s sweep. They may still have to now, but Wednesday showed that their defence and creativity can get them part of the way there.
As established last postseason, the morning (or for a 1:30 start, evening) after each playoff game, we’ll reconvene here to try to sort through all of it. We’ll look at key plays, key statistical trends, the major between-games adjustments, coaching decisions and whatever else strikes me as noteworthy.