With the result, both teams move to 1-1 on the season.
Even four days into a new campaign, the win was pivotal for a Nets team that will be under the microscope until further notice. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were sensational in heavy minutes, combining for 57 points, as both teams dialled down their rotations to nine bodies in a game that featured several double-digit scoring runs and a playoff atmosphere of Nets and Raptors fans alike at Barclays Center.
For the Raptors, the game will go down as a missed opportunity to capitalize on a superstar turn from Pascal Siakam.
Dominant from the jump, Siakam had 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists — the fourth triple-double of his NBA career — as he shot a blistering 15-for-20 from the field, including 2-for-6 from three. Siakam hunted mismatches on a porous Nets side to get himself going — Irving and Joe Harris in the first half — then just started making everything after. It was easily one of the most confident, strongest games he’s ever played.
Siakam had help. Fred VanVleet was crucial for keeping the Raptors in the game after long Nets runs at the start of the third and fourth quarters. With 18 points on 4-for-6 shooting from three, VanVleet also had a handful of strong plays on the defensive end — his four steals all came at times where the Raptors needed an extra possession.
And while not a veteran, Scottie Barnes was the other bright spot for the Raptors on Friday. Shooting 7-for-14 and finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, Barnes wasn’t perfect — his first half featured some hazy passing and bad shots — but got into a rhythm working off Siakam. In the fourth, he was the recipient of two Pascal passes after cutting into the dunker spot, which kept Toronto within one possession of the Nets.
Unfortunately, the Raptors struggled to find contributions otherwise. After a hot start of 3-for-3 in the opening minutes, Gary Trent Jr. went ice cold, finishing 6-for-16 and taking over a number of second half possessions with a laser focus on the hoop — looking off open teammates to take contested shots. OG Anunoby similarly couldn’t follow up a strong Wednesday showing, scoring just ten points in 37 minutes.
The Raptors bench also came up short on Friday. Combining for just nine points, Christian Koloko and Precious Achiuwa failed to be impactful over the full span of the game, while Dalano Banton was a -15 and provided a hiding spot for Kyrie Irving to guard while on the floor.
Still, O’Neale’s three in the waning moments was a smart gamble by a Raptors team that figured they could get a stop and go the other way to win the game. The former Jazz defensive specialist was just 1-for-6 on the night before taking the game-sealer and finished with just seven points. And while the Nets bench wasn’t much better than their opposition’s, 10 points from Patty Mills came at critical times and gave the crowd something to latch onto.