Brooklyn struggled offensively in Game 3 against the Raptors, but it was the team’s defense that kept it from making any true threat.
Toronto’s depth shined as the Raptors held the 117-92 victory to take a 3-0 series lead over Brooklyn. A game that was steady throughout three quarters was blown open in the fourth as Toronto took as large as a 31-point lead–and the Nets did not have a comeback in them.
With Joe Harris leaving the NBA bubble after Game 2 due to a family matter, it seemed increasingly unlikely that Brooklyn would hold an edge in this series. That disparity was evident from the start of Friday’s game, as the Nets scored just 92 points on 33.3% shooting.
If it was not for Tyler Johnson, the Nets would have fallen further behind much sooner than the fourth quarter. Johnson, who filled in for Harris in the starting lineup, had the best shooting night among the Nets, making five three-pointers and finishing with a season-high 23 points.
The Raptors ramped up offensively throughout the game, powered by a 47-point effort from its bench. Pascal Siakam (26), Fred VanVleet (22) and Serge Ibaka (20) led the way for Toronto as Kyle Lowry added a near triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists).
Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s bench recorded just 35 points, led by Chris Chiozza who notched four steals along with his 14 points. Every Net received at least six minutes of playing time as the game quickly got away in the fourth quarter.
Even without Harris, the Nets managed to attempt 51 three-pointers–the third-most in playoff history–and made just 16 of them. That is 31.4%, as Brooklyn was forced to the perimeter after struggling in the paint. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and Garrett Temple were a combined 3-of-20 from three, which, quite obviously, is not what you want.
Jarrett Allen was restricted offensively–and by that we mean he did not score a single point from the field. The Nets as a whole recorded just 22 points in the paint, compared to 46 points from Toronto inside. The Raptors also out-rebounded Brooklyn with a 56-42 advantage.
The Nets had more opportunities at the free-throw line than Toronto and took care of the ball, which was an issue in past games, but allowing the Raptors to shoot 50.5% from the field while recording 35 assists is not a winning tactic. Even on a lower-scoring game for Lowry, Toronto had multiple other players step up to surge past Brooklyn.
Game 4 comes on Sunday, as the Nets will fight to keep their season alive. If Friday was any indication, a victory will not be easy to come by. Brooklyn’s lack of depth is revealing itself on both sides of the ball, and the team does not have the weapons to counter Toronto’s attack.
Time is running out for Brooklyn to make adjustments in this series, but the Nets are simply facing a very talented Raptors team with an undermanned Brooklyn roster. They were not expected to make a run in the postseason, but Sunday provides another opportunity to give a better effort before leaving the bubble.
The stats: 23 PTS, 8-15 FG, 5-9 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 24 MIN
Tyler Johnson stepped into the starting lineup in Joe Harris’ absence and did a good job of filling in the gap of his production.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 21, 2020
Johnson was Brooklyn’s most reliable shooter from three as his teammates struggled, helping clean up sloppy plays with a shot from distance. He also took care of the ball, recording three assists to just one turnover.
If it were not for Johnson, the Raptors could have ran away with the game much sooner than the fourth quarter. Johnson helped keep the Nets afloat, and that was more than was expected of him.
The stats: 15 PTS, 6-14 FG, 3-6 3FG, 0-0 FT, 4 REB, 6 AST, 3 TO, 2 STL, 34 MIN
Caris LeVert was able to impact the game in a few areas, but he did not put the team on his back.
LeVert has shown in the playoffs that he can step into another level offensively, but the Raptors kept him at bay. He was able to force two steals and added shooting from distance, but LeVert also turned the ball over three times compared to his six assists.
The Nets are not going to win a game against the Raptors without an outstanding game from LeVert. That is even more so the case without Harris, and Game 3 did not bring that production from him.
The stats: 14 PTS, 5-10 FG, 3-5 3FG, 1-2 FT, 1 REB, 3 AST, 2 TO, 4 STL, 23 MIN
Chris Chiozza brought efficiency off the bench, which was much-needed. His defensive intensity was also on display with his four forced steals.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 21, 2020
Chiozza has not been at his best throughout the series, but it was good to see him respond in a positive way on Friday. He was a strong bench presence, but the Nets needed more from the second unit overall.
The stats: 10 PTS, 3-18 FG, 2-11 3FG, 2-2 FT, 3 REB, 3 AST, 35 MIN
When you shoot 2-of-11 from three-point range, it is not your night.
TLC managed to put together 10 points, but his performance on Friday was arguably his worst in the season’s restart. After bringing consistent offensive contributions, TLC struggled to find his shooting stroke–and he was not alone.
TLC will likely bounce back on Sunday, but he has shown he has much more to contribute on both sides of the ball.
The stats: 4 PTS, 0-0 FG, 4-4 FT, 17 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 33 MIN
How does Jarrett Allen go scoreless from the field in a playoff game?
His 17 rebounds are a great feat, of course, but good things happen when Allen gets the ball. Even if he does not have an open shot, he has become better at moving the ball to the perimeter and feeding his teammates.
Needless to say, the Nets need to do a better job of incorporating Allen. The Raptors’ defense may have made it difficult, but having him go scoreless from the field just can’t happen.