WE’RE GOING SEVEN. Nets 97, Raptors 83 (GAME GRADES)


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

On the brink of elimination, played about as well as you can imagine for 36 minutes, lopped off for about six, and closed it out behind their stars. Game 7 awaits in Toronto.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

I don’t think he saw the poster outside Barclays Center before the game started, but he appeared motivated nonetheless to start the game, swerving in the lane for a pretty layup and hitting a three-pointer after. Continued his barrage even after twisting his ankle in the third quarter badly enough to send him to the floor wincing in pain for about a minute, but stayed in the game and kept the offense humming.

Williams has had issues in the fourth quarter all season, but darted around a screen and buried a three-pointer to put his team up 13 with about 75 seconds left, all but sealing the game right there. In a series where D-Will’s had question marks in every game, on the brink of elimination, he put together a real-live killer performance.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Was bumped from the starting lineup, and as good as he’s been all season, I can understand why. Alan Anderson knows DeMar DeRozan well, wanted the challenge to defend him, and can also shoot from the outside in a way that Livingston can’t. I like him as a point guard in the second unit, and they’ll probably keep the lineup this way in Game 7. But he can’t make the silly mistakes he made in the fourth quarter.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Johnson has been Brooklyn’s unequivocal offensive leader in this series: the Raptors just don’t have any answer for him inside, and he pounded into the paint with impunity, starting with a flare screen by Williams that got Johnson free for a lay-up. Other than one ugly shot in crunch time, did his job tonight.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

At one point in the third quarter, with the Nets building a dominant lead, Pierce pounded his chest and stared down Drake.

A+.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Garnett didn’t play much, and didn’t have to — his short jumper was rolling, his defense was great as always, and he fought Valanciunas for position inside. He’s, uh, theatrical, but the Nets feed off it.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

First man off the bench and played some of the best defense of his career in the first quarter: blocked two shots, stayed down, and snared rebounds. Blatche is at his best (and, admittedly, least entertaining) when he roams block-to-block, rarely dribbles, and focuses his offense at the basket on put-backs and post moves. Naturally, when he tried to do weird Andray Blatche things, he was called for a travel. If he plays like this in Game 7…

Andrei Kirilenko SMALL FORWARD

He should never try to catch alley-oops from Marcus Thornton, but other than that, did what the Nets brought him in to do: make plays and passes nobody else can see.

Alan Anderson SHOOTING GUARD

I didn’t quite know what to make of it when the Nets announced Anderson as a late start over Shaun Livingston, but it couldn’t have worked out better: Anderson took the assignment to guard DeRozan personally, he attacked the glass, and spaced the floor, forcing the Raptors to respect his shooting and not bring the double-team so quickly to Joe Johnson.

Career-high in rebounds. Expect a Game 7 start.