The overall of Game 6 appeared to be a near mirror image of Game 5, except this time like a mirror, the reflection of the Toronto Raptors was performed by the Brooklyn Nets. Jumping out to an early lead at the start of the game, the Nets never looked back, leading nearly the entire game–save for a few minutes in the opening quarter. And similar to game 5, the Raptors were the ones faced with a huge deficit going into the 4th–down 20 points, which they tried to make up, but would get only as close as 8 points before Brooklyn pulled away. The Nets sent the series back to Toronto and to a 7th deciding game of the series, by winning 97-83.
The Nets came out with a purpose looking to establish tempo early and made their shots, leading them to outscore the Raptors 34-19 in the first quarter—shooting an incredible 68% from the field. From there, the Nets never relinquished the lead, despite the Raptors’ best efforts at making a slight run in the 4th. Contributions on the offensive end from Deron Williams (23), Joe Johnson (17), Paul Pierce (12), and Kevin Garnett (13)–all scoring in double figures–helped lead the Nets to victory. Raptors head coach Dwane Casey post-game credited the Nets desperation start to the game as a key to their victory.
“I thought they came out in a desperate mode and we didn’t. They did what they were supposed to do and we didn’t start to play that way until we got knocked down in the 2nd half,” Casey said. “That’s what they playoffs are about, your start is probably going to tell you how you’re going to finish. And tonight they got their foot on the pedal a lot quicker than we did.”
The Nets scored the majority of their baskets in the paint, out scoring the Raptors by over 20 points inside in the first half.
“They got us on our heels early, the rest of the game was at their typical pace. They did a good job at establishing the way they wanted to play early and we didn’t respond. The first half they had 23 buckets at the rim, that tells us we weren’t defending on the perimeter and wasn’t protecting the rim,” said Casey.
The highest scoring backcourt duo in the playoffs, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were averaging over 40 points thus far in the playoffs coming into game 6. The duo combined for 39 tonight but most of it carried by DeMar’s game-high 28 points, while Lowry, coming off his best shooting performance of the postseason in game 5, he shot just 4/16 from the field. The scoring needed to come from others tonight, and for the most part it did not, as the two guards were the only two players to score in double figures for the Raptors.
Kyle Lowry became a focal point of the Nets’ defense after he scored a game-high 36 points in the Raptors game 5 victory.
“Two, two on me at all times. Making me throw the ball, give it up, and kick it ahead,” Kyle Lowry said that he saw from the Nets defense. “But I got trust in my big men and our other guys that they can get it done if I’m attracting two. So I have no problem giving it up.”
While coach Dwane Casey praised the Nets for doing a good job on Lowry, making him uncomfortable with double teams.
“They’ve been picking out who they want to double team between Kyle and DeMar, I thought they did a good job of taking him out,” Casey said. “They did what they were supposed to do, they really did a good job of taking him out. And we’ve got to do a better job of moving him around where they can’t find him on the weak side. When he’s on the strong side he’s so ball dominant that they did a good job of trapping him, blitzing him, and getting him out of his rhythm.”
The deciding game will be played in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday, and the Raptors will once again attempt to win their first playoff series since May of 2001.
“Every game is different, and I know our team will bounce back,” said Dwane Casey. “We gotta end the game–I thought our momentum was going down in the 2nd half. But we’ve got to come out of the gates a lot fresher, a lot harder.”