Eastern Conference Playoffs
Series Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors
The Brooklyn Nets will be heading into the playoffs for the second consecutive season, as after a strong inaugural season in Brooklyn, the Nets loss a tough series to the Chicago Bulls. This postseason they will be looking for their first playoff series win as the Brooklyn Nets against the team they were chasing the whole season in the Atlantic Division, the Toronto Raptors.
Match-Up of the Series: Deron Williams vs. Kyle Lowry
In what has been a great season for the Toronto Raptors, one of the major contributors to that has been Kyle Lowry, who has had an All-Star worthy season. Lowry is one of the more complete all-around Point Guards in the NBA, as this season he is averaging 17.9 points, 7.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. Against the Nets this season Lowry has been very efficient and effective scoring in four games this season, as he is averaging 22 points on 50% shooting from the field. Deron Williams has certainly had a disappointing season for the Nets, as he is averaging just 14.3 points and 6.1 assists per game, but if the Nets are going to do anything in the playoffs they need Williams to step it up and that has to start against Lowry.
- Debut for DeMar
Raptors Shooting Guard DeMar DeRozan is having a season of firsts, as in February he made his first All-Star team, and now after a bunch of losing season will be making his playoff debut after playing the best basketball of his career so far. Nationally, DeRozan may not be a household name like some players, but this season DeRozan is averaging 22.7 points per game, which puts him in the Top 10 in scoring for the NBA this season. DeRozan will be given the chance to shine on the National stage in the postseason, and something big to watch and that could go a long way to deciding the series is whether he rises or falls to the biggest challenge of his NBA career.
- Youth vs. Experience
The experience differential is eye-pooping in the series between these two teams, as in total the Raptors roster has 156 games of playoff experience. In comparison Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have played in a combined 267 career playoff games. A major concern for the Raptors has to be that their playoff inexperience comes mostly from their starting lineup that has three starters that have never played in a playoff game. TThe two starters that have, Lowry and Amir Johnson have combined to play in 24 playoff games, but neither has started a playoff game.
- Center Dilemma
For most of the season size has bothered the Nets in large part due to the absence of Kevin Garnett, and Jason Kidd using a small lineup with Paul Pierce at the Power Forward position, and although the Nets avoided Joakim Noah and the Chicago Bulls, they will have to deal with Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas is playing very well in April, as he is averaging a double-double in eight games with 16.8 points and 11 rebounds per game. Against the Nets this season he has been solid averaging 10.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. A major question going into the playoff is what is the realistic expectation of what Garnett will be able to give the Nets? The amount of minutes Garnett will be playing is unknown and even if it is more than he has been since returning from the back spasms, there hasn’t been a whole of court time to see how effective he will be. If Garnett is ineffective or can’t play much, Kidd does have the luxury of going with Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche off the bench.