Heavily favoured against the Nets, many don’t expect this series to be a close one with the Raptors likely to win in four or five games.
This includes both national U.S. media and local reporters who cover the Nets daily. Here’s a closer look at what they’re saying about the Raptors ahead of this series.
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Sopan Deb previewed the Raptors-Nets series for The New York Times and it doesn’t look like he has much confidence in Brooklyn’s chances to beat the defending champs.
Maybe the entire Raptors team could oversleep and forfeit several games. Or the Nets could put Flubber on the soles of their shoes. I don’t know. You pick.
But the bottom line is that the Nets are — as another New York institution might say — “outgunned, outmanned.” Even with Irving playing, the Nets would be huge underdogs in this series. But missing most of their best players? It would be one of the biggest upsets in N.B.A. playoff history if the Nets won.
As Greg Logan from local New York paper Newsday reported, though the Nets know they have a tall task ahead of them, this isn’t a team that seems too afraid of the coming moment.
Under the circumstances, it would not be surprising if the Nets must overcome a certain amount of intimidation, but veteran guard Garrett Temple said their confidence has grown as a result of their own 5-3 performance in Orlando. “I don’t think it’s a mental hurdle,” Temple said. “I think you just respect the team that they are right now, understanding they got to be the second seed for a reason.
“I think we’re confident. We really love the way that we’re playing right now, especially on the offensive end, sharing the basketball. We have six new guys on the team, and over these eight [seeding] games, we’ve learned each other much better, so, the confidence in that chemistry is much higher.”
Brian Lewis from the New York Post wrote about how important marksman Joe Harris will be if the Nets are going to have any chance against the Raptors.
When Brooklyn bowed out of last year’s playoffs in the first round, Joe Harris was the X-factor. Philadelphia erased him and eliminated the Nets offense.
The Nets will tip off their first-round Game 1 on Monday against Toronto knowing they’ll need more of an impact from their sharp-shooting wing.
“Joe will definitely garner some attention from them, unlike our other shooters on the team just because of his effectiveness at catch-and-shoot,” interim coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Going back to last week after the Raptors’ seeding-game victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith was singing the praises for Toronto because of the defence the team plays and the man on the bench at the dials.
“It’s undeniable and the reason why is, as Pat Riley once coined the phrase, defence wins championships, and that’s exactly what the Toronto Raptors have at their disposal. And it’s not just like they’re elite defenders like they can just man up and stick you, it’s how they do things. If you remember last year they threw a box-and-one on Steph Curry and they were leaving Andre Iguodala wide open. We’ve seen them throw full-court presses, surprise traps, they’ll double team you, they’ll throw zone defences at you or whatever.
“…They throw a mixture of things at you and teams going up against them night in, night out, no matter who they’re coaching against actually seem surprised half the time at some of the things that they do. Nick Nurse was my coach of the year, I have a vote, and I voted for Nick Nurse for coach of the year. I think he has proven to be an elite coach in the game of basketball.”
If there is a podcasting odd couple, this might be it. Donnovan Bennett and JD Bunkis don’t agree on much, but you’ll agree this is the best Toronto Raptors podcast going.
All the ESPN experts polled in this panel took the Raptors to beat the Nets in four or five games.