Series tied 2-2; Raptors win 87-79
You want respect? Respect is earned, not given. And the Toronto Raptors have earned a ton of respect tonight! Battling bad call, aggressive play and injuries, Toronto pulled out a gutsy win against Brooklyn to not only tie the series at two games a piece, but notched their 1st playoff road victory since 2001!
Game 4 X-Factors:
1. Guard Play: DeRozan/Lowry: 46 points combined. D. Will/Johnson: 17 points combined. Not only did the Raptors contain the two players that have been hurting them all series, they shut them down! Joe was 2-7 from the field, Williams 4-12. That was the difference.
2. JV: The Nets have found a way to get Jonas Valanciunas in foul trouble early, which negatively affects the Raptors offense on a whole. He was still able to be effective, especially in the 4th quarter.
3. Bench Play: Toronto - 18; Brooklyn - 21. We'll call it even.
4. Ross: Someone pointed it out, Terrence Ross wanted this matchup and hasn't had ANY significant impact at all. With the chance to go up 3-2 on Wednesday, does Casey bench him and if so, who starts? I'd personally would go with either Salmons (I don't like him) or Fields (if he's good to go) so Vasquez can still come off the bench. Ross coming off the bench might do him some good.
5. Assists vs Turnovers: 15 assists, 10 turnovers. That's the story right there. Thru 3 games, the Raptors had committed 59 turnovers. FIFTY NINE! Tonight, just 10! What makes it even sweeter is that Toronto forced the Nets into 16 turnovers!
6. Refs: The 2nd, 3rd and part of the 4th, the referees were calling some of the most ridiculous calls imaginable. From a tech on JV, to other stupid fouls, I'm surprised and proud that the Raptors were able to play thru it. Character performance for the boys in red.
7. 3-Ball: Only 6-23. This game would have been blown wide open if the Raptors hit their open 3s.
1. PLAYOFF ROAD WIN!: I've been saying all year, this is the year that the Raptors buck old trends. Add another trend that has been bucked: a 13 game playoff road losing streak dating back to 2001 has officially been snapped! Why is this sweeter than it should be? The night before, VC did what he couldn't do in Game 7 of the 2001 East Semifinals and hit the go ahead, game winning pump fake 3 ball at the buzzer!
2. Tipping Point: As mentioned earlier, the Raptors overcame the odds to even the series. They will NOT be punked off by the Nets, who have tried every dirty trick in the book to get calls to go their way. 4th quarter, that edge was neutralized.
3. Angry Pitbull: Kyle Lowry plays his best basketball when he's hurt! Don't believe me? As Brooklyn! He wouldn't been denied! The smallest guy on the court was the biggest difference for the Raptors tonight!
4. 4th Quarter Defense!: The 4th best defense and the #1 4th quarter defense was back in full effect tonight! To put this into perspective: the Raptors held Brooklyn scoreless for over 6 minutes to end the game! 0 made FGs, 0 made FTs. That alone was huge!
Next Game: Wednesday TBD
We are promised 6 games! And the series returns to the home with the best fans on the planet! And as if they needed a reason to cheer for them before, the Raptors have a prime opportunity to go up 3-2 on their home court! I will be at #PartyInTheSqaure to take in the game live once again! It's gonna be another slugfest, so the two days off will do Toronto more good than it will the Nets.
I've been making bold predictions all season, so here come my boldest yet — Raptors win by 15!