Brooklyn had the experience right? The Nets were supposed to be the ones with the wherewithal to close games and make plays the stakes got the highest. Experience was supposed to rule the day.
Experience in the Playoffs matters until it doesn’t. It takes bravado and confidence. It takes commitment to the gameplan and flawless execution.
Down the stretch against the Nets, the Raptors made those plays getting big baskets from the always confident Greivis Vasquez down the stretch and some big defensive stands in a 87-79 win at Barclays Center. The Nets turned the ball over 16 times including six times in the fourth quarter. There were three offensive fouls in the matter of three straight possessions.
Toronto was to that point struggling to get anything going offensively. The Raptors squandered their hot start and scored just 32 points in the second and third quarters after scoring 35 in the first. Brooklyn slowly worked its way back into the game and had the lead.
But the Raptors would not go away. Even with DeMar DeRozan struggling from the field — 24 points on 7-for-19 shooting — the Raptors found a way to grind out a lead and stay in the game. It took that little push offensively to get over the top. Kyle Lowry started attacking the basket and hitting shots. Vasquez came up big.
It was all the little things winning teams have to do.
Lowry had 22 points and Amir Johnson scored 17 for the Raptors. Brooklyn got 22 points from Paul Pierce.
At the end of the game, the Nets struggled cracking the Raptors’ defense. They forced Joe Johnson to pass the ball out of double teams and rotated perfectly to scramble to the shooters. Even when Kevin Garnett drove in, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas had perfect execution. The final two minutes was a defensive clinic.
That is not what this Nets team is used to hearing against them. They are the ones putting on the clinic. That is what experience buys you, right?
I guess not.