Before the series in our lovely Raptors-Nets playoff preview (still up for your perusal!), one of our features was a talk with Blake Murphy, news editor at Canada’s The Score and contributor to Toronto Raptors blog Raptors Republic.
After three games, we’ve brought Murphy back to share a few more thoughts on the series. He also invited me on Raptors Republic to talk Nets-Raptors with their fans. Check out my thoughts here.
TBG: What do you know/think about the Nets now that we’re three games in that you didn’t before Game 1? What has surprised you about your Raptors?
Murphy: I admittedly didn’t expect Joe Johnson to be quite this big a problem. I knew he would cause match-up issues and probably destroy DeRozan, but 23.7 points on 60.5 percent shooting is a little extreme. Other than the degree of his dominance, the series has played out fairly close to how many expected, including myself.
TBG: We’ve heard a lot of talk down here from Toronto folks about refereeing going against the Raptors. If you look at the foul/FT disparity, it’s almost dead even (both teams were 29-37 in Game 2 from the line), but a few big bad calls swung against Toronto late. Do you think there’s a bias issue?
Murphy: At the risk of our readers turning on me, I really don’t. I’ve been accused of false equivalency so far, but I honestly think the officiating has just been bad, period, which makes bias difficult to discern. Maybe a few more calls or non-calls have gone Brooklyn’s way, but the early tone of the series also now has Raptors fans looking for calls to get upset about. Sure would be nice if Game 4 was called well, though, just to get the focus back on the players.
TBG: Kyle Lowry could barely walk at the end of Game 3 and the Raptors still almost erased a 15-point lead. Can they win if he’s not 100%?
Murphy:They can. It’s an uphill battle if he’s less than 100 percent, but he’s played through minor issues a fair amount this year, anyway. He wasn’t quite himself in Game 3, but even a 70 percent Kyle Lowry is a pretty damn fine player. With that said, if it’s anything remotely serious, that could be enough to swing a series this close.
TBG: I asked you earlier to tell me about a Raptors player the Nets should watch that wouldn’t show up on Game 1 of a scouting report. Did you intentionally leave off Patrick Patterson so the Nets wouldn’t think to guard him?
Murphy: It wasn’t intentional, I swear. He’s playing out of his mind right now and while he’s had really hot stretches before, he entered the playoffs in a pretty serious nine-game slump (6.6 points, 39.7 percent shooting, 33.3 percent on threes). He’s that dude right now. Now if only he could check Joe Johnson…
TBG: Has you prediction for this series’ ultimate result changed? Why/why not?
Murphy:Stubbornly, no. I thought they’d split in Toronto, split in Brooklyn, and then the home team would win out, meaning Raptors in 7. The Nets have been slightly better so far, but I think there are enough ways the Raptors can still improve their game that they can take three of these last four, starting tonight.