Nets Raptors Basketball

The Nets and Raptors start their playoff series Saturday in Toronto. (AP)

 

What had happened was: The Nets cast aside their usual uniforms and instead collectively donned a massive white flag in the final game of the regular season, which they lost 114-85 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game mercifully brought to an end a streak of uninspired, boring basketball the Nets largely played over the final two weeks.

The Nets made rest their first priority, as Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Garnett, Alan Anderson, and Mirza Teletovic sat this one out. Instead, the Nets fielded a vaunted five of Jorge Gutierrez, Marquis Teague, Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche, and Jason Collins. Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee made appearances of the bench, which was weird, because I wasn’t used to seeing NBA players on the court when they got in the game.

That was: A chore. No one wanted to watch the Nets’ collection of also-rans come out and skirmish with a non-playoff game when the team clearly didn’t give a damn, and this was in many senses not even an NBA game.

Where they stand: After a few days of jockeying, the dust has settled. The Nets will take the No. 6 seed and play the Toronto Raptors, who beat the New York Knicks Wednesday to cement their spot in the No. 3 seed, in the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 will take place at the Air Canada Centre Saturday on ESPN. Time TBD. With the loss, the Nets locked a spot in Miami’s half of the Eastern Conference bracket, which means Brooklyn will play No. 2 Miami in the second round if the Nets advance and Miami takes care of business against No. 7 Charlotte.

This came amid much dismay that the Nets would have to play the Chicago Bulls in the first round once again. The No. 4 Bulls will instead play the No. 5 Washington Wizards.

The stats: Well, they weren’t great. Marcus Thornton led the Nets with 20 points on 6-of-19 shooting — and shoot he did. The cuffs were off for Thornton, who is not shy about shooting in the first place. This was an exhibition in gunning.

Andray Blatche posted 20 points (8-of-18 shooting) and 12 rebounds and featured his usual collection of moves and hilarity. Andrei Kirilenko MADE A PAIR OF FREE THROWS and I don’t care about anything else he did.

Jason Collins was set free to fire, logging eight points on eight shots. The lumbering big man played 39 minutes, and you have to figure he’ll never play that many in an NBA game again.

Shot Chart Rorschach Test: A Christmas-themed square donut.
donut

Is Marquis Teague in the D-League yet? That’s a nope.

Game Grades: Read 'em here.

Was this wise? Maybe. Williams needed the rest. If Johnson needed it, he never would have told you so. Pierce has his shoulder thingy, and Garnett sweats a new ocean after each two-minute stint. There were reasons not to care, but there were also reasons to try and avoid Miami in the second round and stay in rhythm.

Also, I take a little more seriously Jason Kidd’s assertion that Garnett’s minutes load won’t increase in the playoffs given that he had absolutely no chance to increase it incrementally during the regular season. The Nets can probably only count on him for 22 minutes a game in the postseason.

WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?

Shaun Livingston, not doin’ things: He didn’t play. That toe is really actin’ up.

Can you give me a comparison for the number of fast-break dunks the Nets gave up in the second half? Sure thing!

Across the river: The Knicks lost to the Toronto Raptors, putting to bed their miserable season and giving them 37 wins, matching the SCHOENE projection that Knicks fans were quick to call absurd before the season began.

Take that, Masai Ujiri.

Next up: The Nets start what they’ve been building toward since Jan. 1. Saturday they get to show that they really were built for the playoffs.

 

Jason Kidd (far) and Erik Spoelstra (near) go head-to-head tonight. (AP)

Jason Kidd (far) and Erik Spoelstra (near) go head-to-head tonight. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat face off for the fourth and final time this season, with the Nets looking to pull off something remarkable: a sweep over the defending champions. Tonight looks a bit different than their first three matchups: For the Nets, center Kevin Garnett will sit out to rest on the first half of the back-to-back, while the Heat will be without guard Dwyane Wade.

The Nets are in the midst of a tough playoff race: as the fifth seed, they're 2.5 games back from the division and the fourth-seed Chicago Bulls, and 2.5 games ahead of the sixth-seeded Washington Wizards. With just six games to play, every win could inch them closer to an unlikely home-court advantage.

But how do the Nets match up with the defending champion Miami Heat? Let's take a look. Tipoff at 8 P.M. EST.

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LeBron James

King James leaves New York City without a victory. (AP)

Good morning, Nets fans and Heat haters. Thank you for your continued support of The Brooklyn Game. I hear Fearza shirts are lovely this time of year. Pick one up in The Brooklyn Game Store! Your support keeps us alive and keeps the legend of Fearza growing.

Here's everything you need to know about last night's Nets upset.
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Reggie Evans Joker Jersey

via Instagram

The Brooklyn Nets take on the Miami Heat for the second time this season at home tonight, after a 101-100 stunner. But more importantly, it marks the first "Nickname Game" in NBA history: both teams will wear jerseys with nicknames on the backs of their jerseys, rather than their standard last name. It's not the first time that NBA players have worn nicknames, but it's the first time the NBA has set up such a game.

So to preview tonight's game, we're going to judge the players the only way I know how: by doing a deep, comprehensive breakdown of each team's nicknames by position. I judged each nickname by overall creativity (did you just use your initials, make a pun, or go the extra mile?), lasting appeal (is it a classic nickname, and should it be?), and appearance (how cool will it look on a jersey?). Unfortunately due to injury, Deron Williams's "D-Will" and Brook Lopez's "Brooklyn" (Brooklyn on the front, Brooklyn on the back) were not considered.

The final judgments:
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Good morning, Nets fans. It's cold. The Nets are undefeated in 2014. Here's some info on tonight's game, plus some Nets news and notes from around the 'net:
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How Brooklyn can dominate a defense. (AP)

How Brooklyn can dominate a defense. (AP)

Last season, the Brooklyn Nets starting lineup prominently featured Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace, two players that hampered Brooklyn's spacing; Wallace shot a league-worst 27.3% outside of the paint, and Evans made just four shots outside of the paint all season. With the new additions of shooters Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry, the offensive possibilities seem endless.

In Friday night's upset win over the Miami Heat, we saw some of these new possibilities on display -- particularly ... MORE →

 

The long and bitter rivalry between Paul Pierce and LeBron James just got a little bit better. Midway through the 4th quarter, LeBron was caught off guard and got his shot thrown back by Pierce. The Nets had a 10-point lead at the time with around 5 minutes to go in the fourth.

In a game that ended with a score of 101-100, every basket counts.

 

Jason Terry leads the crowd as good basketball leads the Nets to an upset victory. (AP)

Jason Terry leads the crowd as good basketball leads the Nets to an upset victory. (AP)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Before Friday night's home opener, Deron Williams casually made a bold statement: he, and his team, felt that they were better than the defending champion Miami Heat. It's a statement easily met with ridicule; this is the Miami Heat, after all, of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, of back-to-back championships.

The road to the title goes through Miami, and Brooklyn took its first steps down that path... MORE →

 

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Paul Pierce, LeBron James

Brooklyn's home opener is tonight. (AP)

It's finally here. The Brooklyn Nets take on the Miami Heat in the team's home opener at Barclays Center, marking the first time that Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Alan Anderson, and Shaun Livingston step on Barclays's herringbone-patterned floor in the regular season as members of the Brooklyn Nets.

Because of that, because of the monumental nature of this game, with the defending champion Miami Heat as opponents, here's a position-by-position breakdown of tonight's matchup. Let this serve not only as a guide to tonight, but a brief on how the teams match up overall throughout the season -- and, hopefully, in the playoffs.

We also compare how the players have looked in head-to-head matchups, and break down their middle names, because The Brooklyn Game has analysis you just can't get anywhere else.

Start here: Mario Chalmers vs. Deron Williams