The last time these two teams faced, Nets forward Paul Pierce ended the game with a pristine block on Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, sealing Game 7 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff matchup between these two teams, before hanging out after the court to bid Raptors fans one final farewell.
So it’s safe to say things were a bit different Wednesday night, with Pierce in Washington, the Raptors well ahead of the Nets in the Atlantic Division, the Raptors celebrating “Drake Night” again, and the Nets lacking the weirdness and consistent perimeter shooting that catapulted them to the first-round victory last season.
Throw all that in a pot, and they didn’t stand a chance against the Raptors running on all cylinders, not after they played above their heads in the first half and fell apart in the second.
Their execution and effort down the stretch of the fourth quarter was atrocious on both ends of the floor, as they hoisted contested shot after fading look as the Raptors poured on the open looks.
This gets into a weird pseudo-psychological breakdown I’m not willing to say definitively, because I’m not in anyone’s head but my own. But this isn’t the first time the Nets have fallen apart in the fourth quarter, and they didn’t seem to play like they cared whether or not they came back.