Playoff Preview: Raptors-Nets Game 4

The NBA Playoffs continue at 7 p.m. on TNT as the Nets host the Raptors hoping to send the series back to Toronto at 3-1 in the Eastern Conference first round. Before each game, we will have a quick preview of the upcoming game with a matchup to watch and a stat to chew on as you watch the game.

Previously on Lost:

The Nets had a comfortable lead for most of the game against the Raptors in Game Three until everything seemed to break loose toward the end. The Raptors started making shots, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of the Nets mistakes. It really feels like the Nets should have this series pretty easily in hand — and they might after tonight — with all the matchup advantages they have and that experience. Yet Brooklyn has not quite runaway with things.

Game Three should have been an easy win. There were several moments when it looked like the game would get put away or was all but over. But the Raptors keep fighting. There is no signs that they will stop fighting. That makes this interesting. Brooklyn cannot ever put these guys completely away.

Matchup to Watch: DeMar DeRozan vs. Shaun Livingston

DeRozan was superb for Toronto on a night when the team struggled to score. Since his struggles in Game One, DeRozan has been phenomenal in his first Playoff appearance. DeRozan scored 30 points in both Games Two and Three for the Raptors and was getting himself aggressively to the basket to set up his jumper. That is what the Raptors will need.

Livingston is, admittedly, a bit outmatched. He has split time playing both Kyle Lowry and DeRozan and the Nets probably want to use Livingston’s length on DeRozan. Livingston is primarily on the floor to run the point and defend bigger guards. But he has to put some pressure on DeRozan defensively and look to attack the basket more when he gets the ball. Livingston has to do more to give the Nets this davntage.

DeMarDeRozanRaptors_DeronWilliamsNets031014Stat to Chew On: Elite company

This is DeMar DeRozan’s first Playoff appearance in his career. He had a shaky start in his first game but scored 30 points in both Games Two and Three to really make his mark on this postseason.

DeRozan became the first player to have consecutive 30-point games in his first Playoff appearance since Chris Paul in 2008. And we remember what Paul did in those Playoffs. DeRozan has not put up the elite numbers that Paul did that postseason, but this is a great debut for him in his first taste of the postseason.

Bloggers’ Corner:

Zrar Siddiqi of Raptors RepublicTake Terrence Ross as an example, he’s been a key part of the rotation since the trade and has supplied three-point shooting and defense all season. He shot 39.5% from three during the season (he’s 11% in the playoffs) and is termed as our best wing defender. It’s safe to suggest that he’s a critical piece of the 48-win season that the Raptors have mustered up. In the playoffs, though, he’s been a write-off for two reasons.

Josh Burton of Brooklyn BallingAfter a poor first quarter in front of a surprisingly lackluster Barclays Center crowd, the Nets rebounded to win the second frame 30-22 en route to taking a four-point halftime lead. Brooklyn was able to string together a 10-1 run towards the end of the first half that put them up 49-41 only to see their lead chopped in half by a quick four-point Toronto spurt.

Philip’s Running Prediction: This really feels like the Nets’ series. They have shown an ability to win in Toronto already. Yet, the Raptors keep coming at them. They keep finding ways to make the game close and remain competitive. Playoff experience matters until it doesn’t. The place where it might matter is in Game Seven, which is where this thing is headed if Toronto can win tonight. The Nets though should wrap it up there in seven games.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily