Paul Pierce,  Patrick Patterson

Paul Pierce led the Nets to a Game 1 victory. (AP)

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Game 1. Here's what happened.
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Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko did not play in Game 1. (AP)

In the Brooklyn Nets 94-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the biggest question for the Nets in the victory was something that didn't happen: namely, bench player Andrei Kirilenko didn't enter the game once, the only DNP-CD on the team that's a regular part of their rotation.

It was something fans noticed all game: Kirilenko's expected to be their defensive anchor in the playoffs, but didn't enter the game once. Was he hurt? Was he being disciplined?

Kidd answered the question in his post-game press conference.... MORE →

 

rufioquin

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@rufioquin via Instagram

 

After his fourth consecutive shot in crunch time fell, putting the Nets up seven with 51.5 seconds left, Nets forward Paul Pierce walked back towards the bench, pounding his chest.

"That's why I'm here!" Pierce said to his teammates. "This is why I'm here!"

In his 137th career playoff game, more than any other player in this Nets-Raptors series, Pierce didn't score once between the beginning of the second quarter and three minutes left in the game, shooting 2-9 from the field at that point.

But a quick three-pointer, a left-handed layup after a few extra steps, and two big jumpers brought the Nets from up three to up seven, sealing the first game of the Nets-Raptors series for Brooklyn with a 94-87 victory.

"He's been doing it for years," Dwane Casey said after the game about Pierce. "He's a Hall of Famer for a reason."

Pierce finished with 15 points, shooting 6 of 13 from the field in the Nets victory.

 


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Dinosaurs beat the clock.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Came out in the first quarter like a different Deron Williams: aggressive, looking for his own (good) shot, trying to draw contact and hitting threes. The Nets don't need Williams to dominate games in the playoffs, but he certainly dominated the first half.

Williams stepped back in the second half, letting Pierce and Johnson take over, and hit two crucial free throws to ice the game.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Love how he defended DeMar DeRozan in the first quarter, but followed that up with some silly bad fouls in the second quarter. He's the "glue" in their starting lineup -- he can defend DeRozan (or Lowry, or whichever top Raptors wing scorer is on the floor), and if he's making bad plays, they're going to struggle.

His short jumper is the best, though.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Seemed to get his own shot in the paint at will, bodying DeRozan in the paint and hitting floaters. Grabbed more rebounds than you'd think.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Opened the game with a contested three-pointer that I thought was a good sign for his game. Spent the next three quarters a complete non-factor, only hitting one field goal and getting blocked by bigger players on his drives.

Then Pierce hit a huge three-pointer to put the Nets up six with under three minutes left. Then later took an extra step or two en route to a left-handed layup. It's okay, because 3 steps by a U.S. player is only 2.5 once you translate them to Canadian currency. Then came the mid-range jumper with 2.7 off the SHOT CLOCK THAT DIDN'T EXIST. Then came ANOTHER dagger.

"That's why I'm here!" Pierce yelled to the bench after his fourth dagger put the Nets up 88-81 with 51.5 seconds left.

Yes it is, Paul. Thanks for coming.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

He's still bringing the heat defensively, but if his matchup with Jonas Valanciunas is any indication, he's in for a tough series. Valanciunas bullied him inside throughout their matchup.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Andray Blatche is the worst pick-and-roll defender I've ever seen.

The enigmatic Andray Blatche was as up-and-down as ever, throwing a turnover away on his first possession, playing the inside well on offense and controlling the offensive glass in a way few other Nets can, and letting Raptors guards shimmy into the lane on pick-and-rolls with the resistance of a cotton ball.

The Nets can't have Blatche playing like this off the bench if they want to win this series.

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

This isn't a grade, but a reflection on possibly the biggest question mark of the day: with the rest of their bench struggling, where was he?

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

Had a couple of nice moments in the second quarter -- a Eurostep!? -- but little else.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

In our playoff preview I said Teletovic was an X-Factor for this team -- if he's playing with the starters, he's going to get open three-pointers and he's got to knock them down.

He didn't.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

They need him to hit shots for him to be valuable. He was not valuable. Not the prettiest playoff debut.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

No dunks and five fouls in 11 minutes. Not his best debut, either.


 

broken shot clock


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A total of 15 fouls were called in the second quarter of Nets-Raptors alone, and that doesn't even count two Nets technicals. Here was the second: after Kyle Lowry & Andray Blatche got tangled up under the rim, Blatche shoves Lowry into the ground as he's getting up.

This is already an exciting, physical series. I'd do seven games of this.

 

Looks like the Raptors are pretty fired up -- maybe a little too fired up. Addressing fans before Game 1 of their first-round series against the Nets, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri had a mic-dropping moment to end his speech, saying "F--- BROOKLYN!" to huge cheers. Watch a fan's Instagram video below:
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WL1

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Created by Raya Lim

 

The Truth has still got it, putting up the first highlight of this Nets-Raptors playoff series with a ridiculous and-one layup in the first quarter of Game 1. Just pure silliness.

 

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YOU READY!?

Your Game 1 Nets starters: Deron Williams, Shaun Livingston, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett.

Check out our full Nets-Raptors playoff preview.