The last playoff game in Brooklyn ended in crushing defeat: a 99-93 Game 7 loss last season to the Chicago Bulls, bumping the Nets from the playoffs in the first round.
Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets are back home for their fifth home playoff game ever, taking on the Toronto Raptors tonight in a crucial game 3 of their best-of-seven series. The winner of Game 3 has won 76.8 percent of all best-of-seven playoff series, according to Elias.
Here’s three must-watch factors in tonight’s game.
1) The possession battle. The first two games have been a wild battle for Toronto’s soul, or at least their possessions. The Nets have limited them on the ground, forcing 40 turnovers in the first two games, while the Raptors extended them in the air, grabbing 27 offensive rebounds. Between the Nets going small/long with Paul Pierce at power forward and the Raptors sticking with Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson, these are the wildest disparities between these two teams, and it’s turned this series into a weird strategic battle of disruptive David vs. gigantic Goliath.
Neither team’s ability is much of a secret at this point. Jonas Valanciunas has put up two big double-doubles in the first two games, setting a Raptors franchise record for rebounds in a playoff game in Game 1, while the Nets have had eight players pick up multi-steal games in the first two games alone. Whichever team wins the battle for Toronto possessions tonight may end up stealing — or preserving — the victory.
2) The open shots battle. The Nets missed an incredible number if open looks in the first two games, shooting just 11-48 from three-point range in Toronto. They’ve got some good news: they’re the league’s second-best team shooting three-pointers at home, with a 39.1 percent clip at home in the regular season. The Nets have, for the most part, executed their offense and picked up open shots… They’ve just missed them.
After 4-24 and 7-24 nights in Toronto, they’ve got to hit shots at some point. Right?
3) The crowd. As the picture above shows, it’ll be a “Whiteout In Brooklyn,” with the crowd donning white shirts placed on each seat. Too much has been made in the media of Brooklyn’s underwhelming crowd, especially in light of Toronto’s big showing the last two days. They’ll show up.