Raise your hand if you had the Raptors and Nets playing each other in the playoffs this season.
While many could have envisaged an NBA where both of these teams made it to the playoffs, nobody could’ve seen them playing each other, especially with Brooklyn as the road team.
The Toronto Raptors had a choice to make heading into this season. With Masai Ujiri at the helm fresh of winning the Executive of the Year award in Denver, Toronto was looking to break the team up and tank the season away.
Enter Kyle Lowry.
The diminutive, muscle-bound menace had a breakthrough season as he pushed to make the All-Star team.
Still, Ujiri was set on detonating the roster. Trading Rudy Gay to Sacramento was the start. However, the Raptors kept winning games and looking fairly convincing doing so.
They eventually became not just a fringe playoff squad but the top team in the Atlantic Division, beating out the slow-starting Nets for their first Divisional title since Chris Bosh fled to Miami.
Brooklyn made the playoffs after appearing a certainty to miss out before Christmas. Brook Lopez was lost for the season, Deron Williams was playing poorly and rookie head coach Jason Kidd appeared hugely out of his depth.
The nadir came with a beatdown on Christmas Day, on national television at the hands of last year’s playoff foes Chicago. The Nets then entered a renaissance period, becoming the third-best team in the NBA (win-loss) over the latter half of the season as the rotation finally figured out how to play together.
Team Vs Team
Kyle Lowry had the season Deron Williams wanted to have. He should’ve been an All-Star and put up a 31-point, 5-rebound, 7-assist, 5-steal line against Brooklyn earlier this season. Inside, Kevin Garnett battles a younger version of himself in Amir Johnson.
Game 1: Nets 102, Raptors 100 (11/26/13, Air Canada Center)
Back when the Nets were struggling to find their identity and Toronto was enduring it’s 6-12 start, this game ended with Brooklyn halting a five-game losing streak. Andray Blatche had 24 points, Joe Johnson 21. DeMar DeRozan added 27 points for Toronto in the losing effort.
Game 2: Nets 80, Raptors 96 (1/11/14, Air Canada Center)
Toronto handed the Nets this loss with Brooklyn playing it’s second of a back-to-back set, the first game being a double-overtime win against the Miami Heat. They also didn’t have Deron Williams or Paul Pierce. DeMar DeRozan was huge again, this time with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Game 3: Raptors 104, Nets 103 (1/27/14, Barclays Center)
Patrick Patterson stole the inbounds pass and converted to give the Raps a lead with six seconds left. Kyle Lowry put up that 31-5-7-5 line. Brooklyn’s perfect record in 2014 came to an end.
Game 4: Raptors 97, Nets 101 (3/10/14, Barclays Center)
Paul Pierce came up trumps in this one, canning a key three-pointer as part of his 10 fourth-quarter points. He also had two steals to help the Nets win their eighth-straight home game.
Game 1: Saturday, April 19th | at Toronto | 12:30pm ET | ESPN |
Game 2: Tuesday, April 22nd | at Toronto | 7:30pm ET | NBA TV |
Game 3: Friday, April 25th | at Brooklyn | 7pm ET | ESPN2 |
Game 4: Sunday, April 27th | at Brooklyn | 7pm ET | TNT |
*Game 5: Wednesday, April 30th | at Toronto | TBD |
*Game 6: Friday, May 2nd | at Brooklyn | TBD |
*Game 7: Sunday, May 4th | at Toronto | TBD |
* – if necessary.