The Toronto Raptors played their first postseason game in 6 years, and it took place at home inside the sold out Air Canada Centre in front of a loud contingent of Raptors’ fans. However what started as a joyous occasion, the end result was not. As the Brooklyn Nets took game 1 and home court advantage from the Raptors, winning 94-87. A late offensive explosion from the Nets’ Paul Pierce helped close out the game in crunch time as he scored 9 points in the final 3 minutes to seal the win for his team.
The biggest positive from the Raptors’ stand point was 2nd year center, Jonas Valanciunas, who set a franchise record 18 rebounds in his first career post season game, adding to his 17 points for a double double. Head coach Dwane Casey, praised his center for the play on the court, and suggests that they may go to him more on the offensive end in this series.
“I thought Jonas played big time, he really did. He grew up today and that was huge for us. We probably have to go to him more, into the post when we have trouble scoring,” Casey said.
“I thought he [Valanciunas had some chippies that he did miss, again we all can play better, we can do better. I can coach better, we all can do a better job in a lot of different areas. 19 turnovers, and I don’t know how many–we shot 39% and a lot of those were chippies inside. I think Game 2 will be a lot smoother from that stand point, from an offensive stand point–making shots that we normally make.”
The Nets did not commit a foul in the entire fourth quarter as Raptors colour commentator Jack Armstrong alluded to multiple times near the end of the game. However Dwane Casey chose not to address that issue.
“I’m going to save my money, from speaking on the officials. But I thought we did a decent job of playing through the physicality. With that said we still got to finish plays with contact at the basket.”
The Raptors’ all-star guard, DeMar DeRozan struggled in his first career playoff game, shooting just 3/13 from the field and not scoring his first field goal until the 2nd half. Coach Casey realizes that the Nets are focused on Derozan on the offensive end, and acknowledges that they have to make adjustments to get Demar some easy baskets.
“I don’t think Demar didn’t–I mean he still got what, 14 points. We’ve got to make adjustments to help him out, I have to help him get open shots, but this is the time when you do step up,” Casey said. “Nobody wants to win more than Demar Derozan, his heart is into it, he’s got sweat equity into this team. Everybody is going to have an off night, their whole game plan was to take him out and they’re a veteran team and they did it.”
A huge factor throughout the game was the differentiation in turnovers between the two teams. Early on, the Raptors turned the ball over, which led to easy buckets for the Nets. Raptors finished the game with 17 turnovers to Brooklyn’s 8, a stat that Dwane Casey was not happy about.
“I thought we let them off the hook more by having 17 turnovers, one of our game plans was taking out the 3,” Casey said, as the Nets shot just 4/24 from beyond the arc. “So I look at the positive in that, the glass is half-full. I thought we did a good job of running them off. You look at the stats and they’re one of the top 3-point shooting teams, I pat ourselves on the back for that part, but I kick ourselves in the butt for 17 turnovers.”
The series continues Tuesday night as the Raptors will look to even the series at home in game 2 before heading to Brooklyn to play games 3 and 4.