No, not the guy *next* to the bench. (AP)

No, not the guy *next* to the bench. (AP)

By the numbers

Nets Bench: 20.1 MPG, 38.5 PPG, 16.9 RPG, 7.4 APG, 3.6 SPG, 1.6 BPG, .456 FG%, .360 3P%, .687 FT%
Raptors Bench 16.3 MPG, 26.2 PPG, 14.0 RPG, 6.4 APG, 2.4 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 423 FG%, .372 3P%, .749 FT%

Breakdown

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The Brooklyn Nets signed Andrei Kirilenko to a two-year deal (the second year a player option) for around $3.2 million per year, a steep discount from his last salary of $10 million. Kirilenko has missed nearly half the season with various injuries, but has left his spastic, unique imprint on the games he has played. In a video with YES Network, I talk about why Kirilenko is so crucial to Brooklyn's potential playoff run.

 

Every playoff series has an unexpected hero, a backup who swings a game or two on the heels of something like ridiculous shooting, lockdown defense, or utter control of the glass. Even the record-payroll Nets franchise will need their role players to come up as the game's spotlight gets brighter and brighter. In this video, I explain the two reasons why my X-Factor for this Nets playoff run is Nets forward Mirza Teletovic.

To add to the video, I'm going to mix sports metaphors for a second: Mirza Teletovic is the basketball version of a LOOGY. For the uninitiated, a LOOGY in baseball is a "left-handed only one out guy," a highly specialized relief pitcher that comes in with one job: get the dude who's left-handed out, and get back to the clubhouse where you can hang out and watch TV until the game's over.

Similarly, Teletovic has one job in these playoffs: get open on a pick-and-pop play or sneaking on the weak side, shoot threes, and make them. When he plays with the starters, he gets open an incredible amount -- per the NBA's optical tracking data, Teletovic shoots 40 percent on 3 uncontested threes per game, or over 7 per 36 minutes.

If defenses spend more time worrying about everyone else on the floor who can create off the dribble, and Teletovic gets free... He could hawk a lot of killer LOOGYs in a seven-game series.

Nets-Raptors: Key Matchup

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

In a video for YES Network, I talk about what I think is the key matchup for Nets-Raptors in the first round: Deron Williams vs. Kyle Lowry. Find out more in depth about the matchup here.

Joe Johnson vs. DeMar DeRozan

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by Max Weisberg Comments

 

Will DeMar DeRozan soar against Brooklyn? (AP)

Will DeMar DeRozan soar against Brooklyn? (AP)

By the numbers

Joe Johnson: 79 G, 79 GS, 32.6 MPG, 15.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .454 FG%, .401 3P%, .815 FT%, 15.5 PER
DeMar DeRozan: 79 G, 79 GS, 38.2 MPG, 22.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .429 FG%, .305 3P%, .824 FT%, 18.4 PER

Breakdown

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It's been a tale of two seasons for the Nets, who turned a 10-21 record at the end of the calendar year into a playoff spot.

In the video for YES Network above, I discuss the reasons why the Nets have turned it around in 2014, including the emergence of Shaun Livingston in their longball lineup, the team's newfound turnover creation (2.7% more possessions) and three-point shooting (5.7 more attempts per game), and Kevin Garnett's impact in the paint.

For some more on how much better the team's gotten in 2014 than 2013, check out the chart below. Third season starts Saturday,
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Deron Williams vs. Kyle Lowry -- who's got the upper hand? (AP)

Deron Williams vs. Kyle Lowry -- who's got the upper hand? (AP)

By the numbers

Deron Williams: 64 G, 58 GS, 32.2 MPG, 14.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 6.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .450 FG%, .366 3P%, .801 FT%, 17.7 PER
Kyle Lowry 79 G, 79 GS, 36.2 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 7.4 APG, 1.5 SPG, 0.2 BPG, .423 FG%, .380 3P%, .813 FT%, 20.1 PER

Breakdown

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Jonas Valanciunas, Kevin Garnett

Jonas Valanciunas & Kevin Garnett: a huge battle of the bigs. (AP)

By the numbers

Kevin Garnett: 54 G, 54 GS, 20.5 MPG, 6.5 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.8 SPG, 0.7 BPG, .441 FG%, .000 3P%, .809 FT%, 13.3 PER
Jonas Valanciunas: 81 G, 81 GS, 28.2 MPG, 11.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.3 SPG, 0.9 BPG, .531 FG%, .000 3P%, .762 FT%, 16.1 PER

Breakdown

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Paul Pierce vs. Amir Johnson

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by William Rausch Comments

 

Paul Pierce, Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson vs. Paul Pierce is the most unorthodox matchup of the series. (AP)

By the numbers:

Paul Pierce: 75 G, 68 GS, 28.0 MPG, 13.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, .451 FG%, .373 3P%, .826 FT%, 16.8 PER
Amir Johnson 77 G, 72 GS, 28.8 MPG, 10.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.7 SPG, 1.1 BPG, .562 FG%, .303 3P%, .636 FT%, 15.4 PER

Breakdown

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It's hard to consider two teams rivals when they have no discernible provincial rivalry geographically, they have only met once in the playoffs -- in the first round, no less -- and they share a grand total of zero NBA titles.

But the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors are rivals of sorts, and it dates back to December 17, 2004, at 5:12 PM, according to Vince Carter himself (fast forward to around 4:30 in the video), when the Raptors first legitimate franchise player, Vince Carter, was traded to the Nets.

The trade created the big three of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter for the Nets, and a vociferous hatred of "half-man/half a game Carter" for Raptors fans even to this day. Vince didn't help his case when he admitted he had dogged it in Toronto. The hate-hate relationship between VC and Raptors fans lead to random games in November that ended in OT like this:

With that in mind, let's take a trip back to 2007 for a rewind, then through the four games the Nets & Raptors have played this season.

next-2

 

Dwane Casey

How good is Dwane Casey when he's not enraged? Do Raps fans have faith? That & more below. (AP)

With the first round of the playoffs upon us, we're flush with Brooklyn Nets coverage. But what about the other side? How do the Raptors look from the perspective of someone who's seen them, day in and day out?

For that, I'm joined by Toronto's own Blake Murphy, news editor at The Score and contributor to Toronto Raptors blog Raptors Republic. Blake has been kind enough to answer five burning questions on the Raptors, and his answers are below. Check it out.
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Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd & the Brooklyn Nets head to Toronto for Game 1 Saturday. (AP)

The Brooklyn Game goes around the horn to predict the outcome and important factors in Nets-Raptors.
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