Brooklyn At Toronto
When: 12:30 PM
ET, Saturday, April 19, 2014
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Toronto Raptors host a playoff game for the first time in six years when they open a best-of-seven series Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets in a matchup of youth versus experience. After a slow start and a notable trade that sent swingman Rudy Gay to Sacramento, Toronto went 42-22 over the final four-plus months of the season to record a franchise record in victories and storm to the Atlantic Division crown - its first since 2006-07. The Raptors also were a three-seed that season and also opened play against the Nets, who - behind then-point guard and current head coach Jason Kidd - won the series in six games.
That still stands as the last playoff series win for Brooklyn, which was the trendy choice to take the Atlantic after acquiring veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett but stumbled out of the gate, only to rebound once the calendar turned to 2014. The Nets' starters boast a combined 399 career playoff games, while there are three playoff rookies - guard DeMar DeRozan, forward Terrence Ross and center Jonas Valanciunas - among the Raptors' first five. The teams split four meetings this season, with each squad going 1-1 on its home floor and three of the four games decided by four points or fewer.
TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, YES (Brooklyn), TSN (Toronto)
ABOUT THE NETS (44-38): Brooklyn nursed its wounds down the stretch and appears to be relatively healthy entering the series, as Garnett returned late in the season from a back injury and point guard Deron Williams was able to rest a balky knee in the final week of the regular season. Pierce, who averaged 19.8 points on 56.1 percent shooting in the four meetings with Toronto, also sat out two of the final five games as he works through a shoulder issue. Guard Shaun Livingston missed the last five contests with a sprained toe but is probable for the series opener.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (48-34): DeRozan and point guard Kyle Lowry were the catalysts all season for Toronto, combining to average 40.6 points and 11.4 assists and stepping up their games against Brooklyn; DeRozan averaged 22.3 points and Lowry 22 points versus the Nets. DeRozan, who lead the Eastern Conference in free throws made and attempted by a wide margin - rested in the second-to-last game of the regular season and played just 22 minutes in the finale. The Raptors are 1-5 all-time in the first game of a playoff series.
1. Kidd was a player and Raptors head coach Dwane Casey an assistant when they won the 2011 NBA title with Dallas.
2. Toronto ranked third in the East in 3-pointers made, while Brooklyn was fourth.
3. Nets SG Marcus Thornton made eight 3-pointers en route to 44 points over the final two games of the regular season.
PREDICTION: Raptors 102, Nets 99
Stats and Records
Toronto Off vs
101.3 Points For
99.5 Points Against