All right, that may not have the same viral effect as Masai Ujiri’s famed pre-game speech in 2014, but many Raptors fans are probably shocked to see the Nets as their first round opponent. Before the re-start, with every major Net player opting out of the bubble, signs certainly pointed towards a Raps-Magic first round rematch.
However, with both teams over-achieving, this playoff series promises to be a breath of fresh air. We brought in Ariel Rada, podcast host of NBAsians and Brooklyn native/fan, to help preview next week’s playoff series between the Raptors and the Nets. Enjoy the latest episode of That’s A Rap!
In This Episode:
2:30 — 2014 Revival
For the third time this season, the Toronto Raptors will begin their title defense. In October, they kicked off the season with an overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Two weeks ago, they re-started the season with a statement victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Playoffs finally upon us, the defending champs renew pleasantries with an old playoff foe.
With the help of Ariel, the boys discuss the 2014 first round series between the Nets and Raptors. It might surprise you how our guest viewed that Nets team.
10:00 — Nets season recap
Brooklyn’s season was doomed to fail before it even started. With Kevin Durant expected to miss the season, the team’s depth, as well as its coach (Kenny Atkinson) would be put to the test. How they’ve managed to win five of eight re-seeding games, despite absences from KD, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, and Wilson Chandler, is nothing short of a miracle. A lot of that success is driven by Jacque Vaughn.
16:40 — Vaughn’s performance
This playoff series also pits a pair of .700 coaches against each other. Nick Nurse’s outstanding coaching job has led the Raptors to a franchise record .736 win percentage. Jacque Vaughn took over for the fired Kenny Atkinson days before the hiatus. He’s done a great job so far and won seven of his first 10 games. What’s the secret to his success? How much of Jarrett Allen’s success is attributed to the team’s coach? What about Caris LeVert and his continued growth?
21:55 — Do the Nets have any chance?
Levert’s leadership will likely land him a spot on the All-Bubble team. (Yes, that’s a thing) His ability to penetrate, get defenders on their hip, and score will help tremendously in trying to pull off an upset. Brooklyn owns the bragging rights of ending Toronto’s franchise record 15-game win streak.
24:50 — Matchups and X-Factors
Joe Harris, while known as a sharpshooter, is quicker that you’d imagine. Just as Matt Thomas is driven off the line, Harris uses his deadly shooting to lure defenders in before blowing by. Rodions Kurucs will also test Toronto’s penchant for allowing 3-point shots.
29:35 — Predictions
Will the Raptors lose another Game 1? Can the Nets steal a game or two with hot outside shooting? In a season full of franchise firsts, are the Toronto Raptors capable of completing their first playoff series sweep?