YES Network’s Donny Marshall, Jim Spanarkel Preview Nets-Raptors

Jim Spanarkel pic
Jim Spanarkel

YES Network color commentators Donny Marshall & Jim Spanarkel answer three questions on tonight’s game against the Toronto Raptors. Spanarkel is on the call with Ian Eagle for Games 2 and 3, while Marshall will be in the studio.

Spanarkel’s Take On…

Jim Spanarkel
Jim Spanarkel
Nets’ experience: it plays out in various ways. For example, at the end of the game, with about 2:43 to go in the fourth quarter (in Game 1) and it’s a four-point game, that’s exactly where the Nets want to be, whether they are up by a few or down by a few. They want to be in a position to win the game in the last 5-6 minutes, where Jason Kidd has the opportunity to put in whomever he wants because he has managed minutes throughout the game, and throughout the season. Johnson, Livingston, Williams, Pierce and Garnett – all are confident down the stretch of a game. It forces the Raptors to play straight up because you do not know which player is going to beat you even though the Nets rely on Johnson and Pierce at the end of close games. They are all capable of beating you. They are all smart, and they understand mis-matches. For example, Johnson and D-Will played better statistically throughout game, but it was Pierce who came up with the big shots at the end.

This team is built for the playoffs; the extra time in between games can really be a help to the Nets. The first four games of this series are postured pretty nicely for a veteran team such as the Nets.

It’s sort of like the Yankees in baseball. They always tried to get into a position to get to Mariano Rivera at the end of the game. You put yourself in a position throughout the course of a game to maximize your chances of winning at the end of the game.

Pierce is playing 5-7 years younger than he is and it provides a great deal of confidence to his teammates knowing that coming down the stretch of games. He has a nasty disposition as a competitor, which you need, and which is contagious. Garnett is the same way, but is not relied upon as much down the stretch. He has the same intensity and focus (as Pierce), which is contagious among teammates in the playoffs.

Jason Kidd: he did very well (facing a raucous crowd Saturday). He’s been through a lot as a player; he’s probably thinking, “This is no different than when I played.” He didn’t let the atmosphere rattle him or the players. You try to build for consistency (with your lineup) throughout the season. He’s been very comfortable with the bench throughout the regular season and, even though his bench got outscored on Saturday, it still weathered the storm.

Nets heading into Game 2: The team average about 23 3’s (attempts) per game during regular season, and they were 4-for-24 on Saturday. The bench was 0-12. The expectation is for the bench to settle down and score more. The bench will look to get into a routine, and contribute more in Game 2. I think that the Nets stay with that number of three-point attempts – 24, as long as they continue to look to probe first – looking to pass or go down low – and not “settle” for a 3. They have to confident with their 3 point shots . In the playoffs, each possession is so important, they must make sure it’s a good shot, not a hurried shot.

Raptors heading into Game 2: The Raptors will probably try to focus on a few positives from Game 1. Lowry played well; DeRozan (3-13) will probably want to be more aggressive, more pro-active; I won’t be surprised if you see the Nets continue to keep a second defensive player in his space and to keep the ball from him in his comfort spots on the floor. Ross wasn’t a factor, so I expect him to be more involved and more aggressive. The Raptors turned it over 19 times (in Game 1); look for them to quicken the pace and use their youth and speed …see if that can become a factor.

I think Raptors will pick up the pace a little bit, run up and down the court more. They need to look for opportunities to push the ball. They had problems against the Nets’ half-court defense. They have to look for transition buckets, get down the floor and get into their sets quickly…making a quicker first pass to get their offense started faster.

All in all for the Raptors, it was a four-point game with 2:43 left, their bench played well, their leading scorer did not play well, they defended the Nets from three-point line well. They shouldn’t be overly concerned but they should hope to get off to a quick start to benefit from the loud crowd. I am sure their coach is pointing out that even though they lost, they still had an opportunity to win the game even though they did not play their best game.

One concern for the Raptors is how are they going to slow down Joe Johnson? He’s proven that he can score against anyone; he didn’t have to shoot the three; he’s proven he can pass the ball out of double teams. How can the Raptors match up with Johnson? Most likely sending a second defender at Johnson when he 15 feet and closer to the basket.

I can see also Valanciunas getting more touches.

Click “Next” for Donny Marshall’s takes on the game.