The Brooklyn Game goes around the horn to predict the outcome and important factors in Nets-Raptors.
1) So, it’s the Raptors. Would you have preferred the Bulls?
- Justin DeFeo: No. Though the Raptors present issues, I do think they’re the more favorable matchup. The Bulls’ mix of grit, experience and coaching would have been a much tougher out, as we saw last year.
- Andrew Gnerre: No. I think if you can ever avoid Joakim Noah and Tom Thibodeau, that’s generally a good thing. (That being said, Toronto is going to be a TOUGH place to win in the playoffs.)
Chris Hooker: Both of these teams give Brooklyn trouble, but if I absolutely had to pick one, I guess it’d be Toronto. The Nets really don’t match up well with the Raptors, and though they beat them twice, they are in no way a “preferred” choice. Let’s not forget the Raptors have played better than the Nets and Bulls all year and this is the best team the franchise has ever seen — and they did it without the two best players in Raptor history. That’s nothing to shake your head at. But the last thing the Nets need is another opening round loss to Chicago.
- Devin Kharpertian: Not really. Both present their own issues. The entire “jockeying for position” stuff was overblown. The Nets wanted to rest their guys no matter who they played, and they didn’t have control over a lot of the matchups.
- Benjamin Nadeau: Tough. I cried in the shower after Game 4 last season. I will never trust short people that can dunk again. Noah scares me, but the Raptors scare me too. They can take advantage of one of the Nets’ biggest weaknesses, guarding the three-pointer. They both terrify me and Brooklyn could easily lose both. So, as long as we’re dealing with hypotheticals, I prefer neither. They both give me nightmares. Ultimately, I’ll say the Raptors, just so I don’t have to watch Carlos Boozer for seven games.
- Will Rausch: No. There’s the recent Bulls history, for one. Visions of Game 7 in Brooklyn still haunt my head. Then there’s the Raptors’ broader history, with Toronto only having one playoff series victory in franchise history. Most importantly, the Nets want nothing to do with Thibodeau and Noah.
2) One BOLD prediction about the series:
- Justin DeFeo: Judging from the regular season, these two teams play each other well and the margin between them is razor thin. So due to the competitiveness of the two teams and the swings in the series, Nets-Raptors will be the most entertaining first round series in the East.
- Andrew Gnerre: Andray Blatche plays hero in Game 4, pouring in 20+ in a Nets win. But then loses his passport the same night, preventing him from traveling with the team for Game 5.
- Chris Hooker: That Brook Lopez comes back for Game 7. Or that Deron Williams will go off for one game. 35+ points in one of those can’t-miss games from three-point range. Max player can’t get outplayed by Lowry this series, and I don’t think he will.
- Devin Kharpertian: Mirza Teletovic swings at least one game, for better or for worse.
- Benjamin Nadeau: Marquis Teague will play once. I’ll stop there and leave you to decide whether I believe that Nets will win or lose a game by 20+ points. Bonus: I predict vintage KG. All that rest he’s gotten the last month of so? Unleashed, circa 2010. Mid-range jumper after mid-range jumper. For years, I’ve loathed watching Kevin Garnett compete in playoff basketball. Come Saturday, I believe I will be very, very happy. I hope. I think.
- Will Rausch: Mason Plumlee posterizes one of the Raptors bigs in the iconic dunk of the 2014 NBA playoffs, one that would make former Nets and Raptors star Vince Carter blush.
3) And the winner is?
- Justin DeFeo: Nets in 6.
- Andrew Gnerre: Nets in 6.
- Chris Hooker: Nets in 6. But they can’t get caught up in looking ahead to Miami.
- Devin Kharpertian: CHOO-CHOO! ALL ABOARD THE NETS IN SIX TRAIN! But seriously, let’s put it this way: I think the Nets enter Game 6 at home up 3-2, with a chance to close out the series. If they win, they move on. But if they lose, I don’t see them winning Game 7 in Toronto.
- Benjamin Nadeau: Brooklyn, seven games. I wanted to say six, but let’s be real here. At this point, I’m just waiting for another backup point guard to go Super Saiyan. Batter up, Greivis Vasquez.
In 2014, the Brooklyn Nets will defeat the Raptors in six games, to set up a second-round matchup against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. After the deciding game against Toronto in Brooklyn, fans will gather beneath the oculus to chant: “U-S-A!”
Will Rausch: In the first round of the 2007 playoffs, the New Jersey Nets beat the Toronto Raptors in six games, setting up a second-round matchup against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. After the sixth and final game against Toronto in New Jersey, fans chanted chanted “U-S-A!” in the tunnel to the Meadowlands parking lot.