The Toronto Raptors dropped their first playoff game in six years on Saturday, narrowly losing an afternoon affair that leaves plenty of question marks heading into Tuesday’s Game 2.

As with any playoff series, there are ample adjustments that can be made. The issue, of course, is that the Nets are also afforded the opportunity to go over tape and make adjustments and counter-adjustments of their own. Jason Kidd didn’t start the season as a great coach but seems to have settled in, and while Dwane Casey isn’t an offensive mastermind, he’s generally shown to be a heady coach when it comes to defensive gameplanning.

Raptors – Defensive Adjustments
So let’s start there, with the defensive adjustments the Raptors may make. The big one will be in how they cover Joe Johnson, who beat them in a variety of ways in Game 1, against several different defensive looks. He did damage off the ball, initiated from post-ups and was willing to pull up from mid-range when Raptor bigs sagged in the pick-and-roll. There’s no easy solution when it comes to Johnson because he can beat you in so many ways, and so it comes down to those tasked with guarding him simply doing a better job, specifically DeMar DeRozan.

Many have focused on the Paul Pierce match-up, which also poses problems. I’m less concerned in this regard, because Pierce really just got hot for a few minutes and the team otherwise did a fair job containing him. Amir Johnson is an okay option on Pierce generally, though he played poorly in Game 1. So long as the Nets don’t put him in the pick-and-roll, forcing a switch that would allow Pierce to body a smaller wing or, worse, face-up against Jonas Valanciunas, Johnson should be able to handle himself. It still poses the problem of Johnson then being lost as a valuable help defender, but the Nets don’t drive a great deal, anyway, and you can’t afford to lose Valanciunas’ offense and rebounding.

When it comes to Pierce and Johnson, and even the lanky, tough-to-check Shaun Livingston, the Raptors can’t even think about doubling the post, not with how well Pierce and Johnson pass and how many 3-point shooters the Nets employ. They’re not going to go 4-for-24 from long range again, and providing them open opportunities to regress to their mean via doubling the post is suboptimal.

Finally, there’s the Landry Fields question. I thought the Raptors would have been well served to dust Fields off late in the season to see what he could provide, but they opted not to and are now faced with the idea of giving meaningful playoff minutes to a player who has played double-digit minutes just once since March 2. Fields is a versatile defender (though some Synergy video revealed that he’s not quite as good on the block as I seem to remember) and could spell any of the team’s wings in guarding Johnson or Pierce. He could particularly challenge Johnson by being steady against any of the ways he tends to get his points (that is, Fields is a “jack of all trades, master of none” defensively, so Johnson couldn’t identify an advantage in the way he can against DeRozan, Terrence Ross or John Salmons).

Raptors – Line-up Adjustments
As much as some may want to see Fields get some run, Casey would probably be better off shortening his rotation rather than adding another body to it. Casey played 12 players in Game 1, something no other team did in their Game 1 match-up except for Oklahoma City and Memphis, who didn’t do so until there was a minute left in a 14-point game. Sure, Steve Novak only played briefly and Nando De Colo, Tyler Hansbrough and Chuck Hayes combined for just 17 minutes, but with how much time there was to prepare – not to mention the four earlier meetings with Brooklyn – the team should have had a better idea of who their eight or nine guys were.

I’d be keeping things very tight, using Lowry, Greivis Vasquez (who can do spot-duty checking twos due to his size), DeRozan, Ross, Johnson, Patrick Patterson and Valanciunas primarily. That’s only seven names, and you know Salmons is getting run, but I’d make the choice between Salmons and Fields and live with that one body unless he’s getting killed. Two guards, three wings, three bigs should be all they need given the amount of information they have on Brooklyn’s plan of attack now.

Raptors – Offensive Adjustments
Can DeRozan please come off a screen with a little more authority? His Game 1 performance was bad and he was far too willing to settle for long jump shots. I get that he maybe wasn’t getting the calls, especially late, and that’s probably incredibly frustrating, but it’s no reason for passivity. One of the issues with Patterson playing so much over Johnson, while it was a net positive on Saturday, is that Patterson isn’t nearly the screen-setter that Johnson is and Valanciunas still has bad habits when it comes to slipping screens early or telegraphing where his teammate is going by beginning his step-two action early. DeRozan has to work around that, though, and remain aggressive, because his advantage against Nets wings is his athleticism on the move.

Other than DeRozan, it’s all about ball control. The Nets force turnovers with the best of them, ranking third in opponent turnover percentage, but the Raptors were generally an above-average team when it comes to holding on to the ball. On Saturday, they had 19 turnovers leading to 17 Brooklyn points, which is simply unacceptable. Call it jitters (DeRozan had three), call it trying to do too much (Lowry had five) or call it taking the good with the bad (Valanciunas had six), they simply can’t give Brooklyn nine additional field goal attempts, many of them easy looks.

Nets – Adjustments
It’s easy to assume the winning team won’t change much, but don’t forget that the Nets didn’t play particularly well in Game 1 either. This was not a case of the Raptors losing narrowly despite playing poorly, so there’s hope for a Game 2 rebound – both teams played below expectations, and Game 2 hinges on who adjusts better. In particular, Brooklyn isn’t going to be ice cold on threes all game, not when they shot 36.9 percent from there on the season. It’s also worth noting that despite the perceived officiating imbalance, Brooklyn only took two additional free throws, even with late-game fouling included, so a Plexiglas game from the refereeing crew shouldn’t swing things too much, anyway.

In terms of adjustments, it will depend who steps up in their frontcourt rotation. Kevin Garnett didn’t look good until late and Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche were ineffective, so Kidd will likely continue to rotate all three until they find a way to shut down Valanciunas inside. Lowry led the Raptors in Game 1 but shot 7-of-18, and it’s unclear what, specifically, Brooklyn could do to slow him, short of sticking Livingston on him a bit more and potentially sacrificing Ross or DeRozan being checked by the 6-foot-3 Deron Williams. Andrei Kirilenko could also be freed, though it’s unclear what defensive role he’d take on if the Raptors wings don’t have it going, anyway.

Breakdown
Vegas says: Raptors -4.5 with 58 percent of action on Brooklyn and a similar percentage hitting the over at 188.5.
ESPN says: A 61.2 percent likelihood of the Raptors covering that spread, though Brooklyn now boasts a 60 percent chance of winning the series outright.

Not to be dramatic, but this is as close to a must-win as you can get. Going to Brooklyn down 2-0 would mean the Raptors need to take at least two games in Brooklyn in this series, which will be no easy task. Perhaps more importantly, a 2-0 deficit for such a young team could be damaging to the psyche, making it difficult to bounce back. You can make plenty of excuses for the Game 1 loss – nerves, inexperience, the referees – and the Raptors were surely on their worst behavior. That doesn’t assure a bounce-back, though, and the Nets are sure to smell blood with what could be a fragile team (and crowd – please bring it once again, ACC).

Still, the Raptors should take this one. The Raptors have beaten the Nets twice this year. DeRozan and Johnson, in particular, should be better, and the ways for Toronto to improve in this one are more obvious than for Brooklyn (other than “hit those threes”). Plus, it’s really difficult to beat a team on their home court twice in a row, especially when the actual talent disparity between the teams is so narrow.

Let’s remain optimistic until there’s concrete reason not to – Raptors by seven, Amir Johnson has a great game (though DeRozan still struggles), and Drake asks me to drop a verse on his next album in post-game media availability.

  • FREEJV

    Jonas will get us that #victorybaby tonight dont worry guys.

    • the dude

      SEEJV. Let’s hope Casey and everyone else remembers to use him down the stretch.

      • Ted

        Lets hope Lowry stops trying to one up DWill. Game 1 showed a Lowry who was reckless, selfish and had a shoot first mentality.

        • Musik

          He had to do that because nobody else was doing anything. If he was getting calls and getting to the free-throw line you would have nothing to say.

        • FLUXLAND

          Did you watch the game? Everyone else was standing around waiting for Kyle to bail them out.

      • FREEJV

        as long as demar is here Jv will never get majority of shots. His passing off the pick and roll is brutal

      • Ghotte

        Lowry had to be reckless, selfish and shoot-first because 3 of 5 starters were MIA. JV will get his touches if he can stop missing the bunnies – if there’s anything that erodes the confidence of your teammates it’s that (and basket interference calls.) Hope he’s able to handle things when the Nets bring the double team. Sit Salmons and all will be good.

    • FLUXLAND

      Hopefully he can rebound down the stretch… because he certainly didn’t do much after he checked in with 6 min to go – KG out rebounded him 3 times when it actually mattered.

      • FREEJV

        give him the ball and maybe he will give more effort.

        • FLUXLAND

          More effort will get him the ball more.

          • FREEJV

            18 rebounds not enough effort i guess

            • FLUXLAND

              Hmmm… and how many in the 4th? Do we want to go over all those and see how many times he actually fought someone for one?

              For all the talk of us owning that matchup…KG got the best of him when it counts, bottom line.

              • FREEJV

                looool what game were you watching? what a retard. 18 rebs is 18 rebs bud keep on hating. how the lakers doin btw?….. oh nvm

                • FLUXLAND

                  I didn’t say anything about the 18 only.. I was talking about all the ones he didn’t get with the game on the line. Keep on deflecting tho…. lololol

                • FREEJV

                  cant get rebs when the ball goes through the hoop bud learn the rules. Btw lakers are last i think 😀

                • FLUXLAND

                  Go back and watch he last 6 mins… lol… what hoop? Ball was up for grabs and your boy got worked at least 3 times.

                  Did you just say the Lakers are in the lottery? : )

                • FREEJV

                  JV= better than any player lakers will get in draft you mad? :D. still 2 months till draft day tho so you gotta go on other forums until draft day to troll bud 😀

                • FLUXLAND

                  LOL! What else you see in the crystal ball? If Pau stays, they won’t need to draft anyone better than JV.

                  You’re trolling me about the Lakers to deflect how your boy got smashed when it counted.

                • FREEJV

                  ahahahaha did u just say pau gasol? looool end of convo. and yes he got smashed cuz KG had 2 pts in 4th and JV had more than him :D.

                • FLUXLAND

                  LOL! I agree. Pau > JV. : )

                • FREEJV

                  yea maybe 10 years ago when JV was 11. not anymore tho bud :D. Gasol is the biggest joke of lakerland lmaoooo the guy is always in trade talks ahahaha.

                • sleepz

                  Gasol is still a better player than JV even at this stage in his career. Not the biggest Pau fan, but his scoring ability around the rim is light years ahead of JV.

                • FREEJV

                  Nah JV>pau all day. pau is 40 JV is 20.

              • Rapchat

                I don’t recall anyone saying we will win this matchup because JV will be clutch in the 4th, do you?

                • FLUXLAND

                  No, did I didn’t say it either, did I? But FREEJV just claimed he is going to get us the W… if that’s going to happen, going to need a lil more down the stretch than 2 buckets with the game out of reach.

                • the dude

                  2 buckets on 2 shots. Needs more touches. Bigs need to get the ball in good areas to score.They don’t create their own shots like a guard. Need more plays inside to the big man. With Lopez out, this is the Raps one decided advantage over the Nets. Need to exploit it more.

                • FLUXLAND

                  (Yeah, two buckets they gave him because they had the game in hand, basically. They had no reason to be aggressive and try and stop him.)

                  And yeah, no issues with that thinking. But I’m fairly certain BK is not trying to win that
                  matchup…primarily, they will try to get him into foul trouble.

                  Your bigs need to be able to control the paint and make a difference on the D end, scoring is secondary.

                • Steve

                  …and they are not able ever since like…hmm, Antonio Davis?

                • sleepz

                  Problem with JV and just giving him the ball is it can only be in that pick and roll and dive to the rim. You can’t give it to him on the blocks and expect him to kill whoever he’s covering.

                  He’s still very much right hand dominant and doesn’t use the drop step or left hand hook at all when posted on the right block. That’s not a diverse enough post game to just say give him the ball and expect him to do work possession after possession.

                • FREEJV

                  hes a retard its ok.

  • Nilanka15

    This game is most definitely a “must win”. No chance we came back from a 2-0 deficit. Just too much inexperience to overcome the psychological hurdle.

    #FuckBrooklyn

    • FLUXLAND

      What happened to “Experience can only do so much to compensate for osteoarthritic bones” ? : )

      • Nilanka15

        Osteoarthritis is clinically shown to display symptoms from Game 2 onwards 😉

        • FLUXLAND

          LOLOL! I hope so, because a few of those guys looked rejuvenated. I swear DWill bought new ankles and KG looked like he had 3 espressos.

  • BadDinosaur

    Me thinks we’ll destroy them tonight! Go Raps by 15 +!!!

  • the dude

    Jesus Christ. Is it 7:30 yet?

    • Rapchat

      For real.

  • Wes mantooth

    This is where we officially see what kind of coach we have. Let’s hope he he adjusts it’s his move.
    Derozan in the pick n roll with a pass is key. There are so many openings on that play for JV. And Amir. I rewatched game one and that was a glaring option for us. And he’s gotta know that Landry has gotta be out there at some point atleast to give another defensive look. Also he’s one our best cutters to the rim without the ball. I see that as a great solution to playing a slow team man! High IQ and fresh legs Free Landry!! Salmons killed us last game. Enough is enough with this guy. I think he’s cooked , done !
    Fuck Brooklyn go raps

  • Dreamer

    Don’t worry everyone. Had a dream the Raps won 97-84 tonight and took 4 straight for the series. I got this.

  • Marco belchior GOON

    Don’t know how to start a thread on here..
    If OKC doesn’t win this series or they disappoint at all they will be willing to deal Westbrook.
    Sign and trade Lowry and maybe Ross for Westbrook???

    • Pong

      Hah

    • noname

      umm…NO, just…NO.

      • Marco belchior GOON

        Why not?

        • llaen

          My guess would be: “Because no one in their right mind would do that”?

          • Marco belchior GOON

            I was just asking a question so instead of a smart ass answer why don’t u give a constructive answer?
            Who would u trade for westbrook?
            Answer with the non douche part of ur brain

            • llaen

              Well, I answered your question.
              That being “Why wouldn’t they trade Westbrook for Lowry and Ross?”
              My answer was an elaboration on noname’s more simple “No”. Westbrook is worth much more than that to OKC and they are not crazy to go for a trade like the one you are describing.

              Use the smart part of your brain to understand what I meant.

              • Marco belchior GOON

                I think you’re wrong. If they don’t accomplish there goals there’s gonna be a huge questionfrok a chemistry standpoint and Westbrook would be in the block which would mean they need a point guard. Hence Lowry. An all star pg. him and Ross are almost too much for Westbrook

  • Pedro-

    Here are my layman’s keys to win the game:-
    1-Cut down turnovers (specially from non-ball handlers like JV & DD)
    2-Cut down long contested jump shots (by DD) & attack off the screen aggressively.
    3-Give different looks to Johnson & may be employ zone once in a while against their 3’s.
    If DD & TR improve to their regular level, we will win this game.
    GO RAPS GO

    • lino

      tighten the rotation, i dont want to see chuck hayes and salmons down the stretch, ever!

  • Guest

    I, for one, am disappointed when I click on an article with 37 comments and 1/4 of them involve fluxland arguing with someone.

    • FLUXLAND

      So, instead of commenting on the actual article or adding to the discussion in any sort of relevant way, your contribution lies in lamenting about the statistical merits of the comments section?

      • Rapchat

        HAHAHAHA. Both right.

    • Mexiballer

      I dont know why he is allowed to troll. You would think RR would do something about it.

    • DC

      If everyone ignores him instead of engaging with him, he will eventually give up and go away.

  • noname

    I am so pissed off that people are writing the raptors off (not on this site)!! I want the raps to DESTROY brooklyn by 30 for the next 4 games so that everyone shuts up. FUCK BROOKLYN!

  • Bugster

    I still think the way to beat the NETs is run, run. The DeRozen foul game wont work in the playoffs, if James Harden and Durant didnt’ get late foul calls, DeRozen wont’ either. Get the Rebound and run, move the pace. We can’t have a 85-90 score. This is not the 90’s or 80’s.

  • Hassan Mehmood Khan

    we need to feed the ball into jonas in the post and surround him with shooters

  • ZQ

    Watch the severe turn around in officiating. Solid crew tn with lots of experience not the sideshow bob’s we had Saturday. If Demar/T-Ross play to 50% of their capabilities all things held equal, we win no problem.

    I want Demar to drive lane and put it on the Net’s family like he did on Detroit, not only does it get him going but the team goes bonkers when he gives them a rare glimpse of his elite athleticism. If he throws down a poster in the first quarter to let the Nets know “hey I’m here tonight
    I will carry a half chub till game 3
    Raps win by 12 tn

  • Mexiballer

    I will not be surprised if Landry Fields takes minutes from Vasquez.

  • dede

    Jesus that was a huge win

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