The Dinosaurs beat the clock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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?
Had a couple of nice moments in the second quarter -- a Eurostep!? -- but little else.
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.
They need him to hit shots for him to be valuable. He was not valuable. Not the prettiest playoff debut.
No dunks and five fouls in 11 minutes. Not his best debut, either.