It’s game seven. Cue up Sirius by the Allan Parsons Project. All the familiar sports clichés apply: this one’s for all the marbles, the season is on the line, do or die; you get the idea. The real story for this game is just how crazy close this entire series has been, and what that means for what we’re going to see today.

The overall point differential for the entire series is only +4 for Brooklyn. The difference between the two teams has come down to 0.04 points per possession. That’s a razor thin margin of difference, working out to less than a point a game. Brooklyn has been the tiniest bit better overall, but not so much as to warrant them being favored coming into the game. Six games into this matchup, each team knows what it needs to do against the other in order to win.

The Raptors are scoring very efficiently in the pick and roll and cutting to the basket. When they run plays, they score well. Their offence has been at it’s worst when running out of isolation, which is an instance where the numbers back up the eye test. Brooklyn is double-teaming hard or trapping on the perimeter the second they sniff out isolation plays, DeMar off screen hand offs or even slow moving pick and rolls towards the middle of the court. It’s been reasonably effective. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have felt like absolute heroes at times in this series, but Brooklyn is winning those one-on-five battles overall. On the other hand, whenever the Raptors run action that frees up movement to the basket they’re scoring well. They’re eating up the Nets off of pick and rolls, cuts, post-ups and hand offs. Basically, if the Raptors offense makes a way for a player to get to the basket, they’re scoring over a point per possession. The Nets have struggled mightily to guard the rim and they’re fouling a lot. The only problem is that much the same is true of the Raptors. This series has been much tighter than the wildly swinging scores of the last two games have insinuated.

The Raptors defensive system and personnel were top 10 in spot-up shooting, transition and the pick-and-roll during the season. They were average against post-ups and bad against isolation. Their spot-up shooting defense has held up in the series, despite Brooklyn’s 3-point prowess and the number of wide-open 3s it feels like Brooklyn’s drive-and-kick ball movement has generated. What’s killing them is the pick and roll. Brooklyn hasn’t been knocking down the majority of their good shots that their ball movement and the Raptors scrambling has created, but they have gotten a bevy of easy baskets in the last 5 quarters of play by exercising pick and rolls out of that movement once they have the Raptors big men in motion.

For those of you calling for Fields over Salmons, I agree in principle. But Salmons isn’t getting the minutes because of some unspoken grudge Casey has towards Fields. It’s because of the injury Fields took falling hard on his tailbone and back in game 3. He was still suffering from back spasms in game 6 and his availability is unclear.

The Nets have sparked their offence by spreading out the floor by taking Kirilenko and Livingston, two non-shooters, largely out of the rotation with the starters in favor of Alan Anderson. The spacing that Coach Jason Kidd has opted for in these small ball lineups hasn’t unlocked their 3 point shooting in the same way it did for the Knicks teams that Jason Kidd ended his career playing for, but it has made for a world of space in the middle. They’ve been better spotting-up, but it’s these lineups that are killing the Raptors by getting to the basket and getting to the free throw line in the process.

A surprise source of points for Brooklyn in the last few games has come from baskets out of transition. The Nets are getting more transition buckets in this series than they did during the season. So much for old, slow legs. The Raptors are scoring much more efficiently out of transition than Brooklyn (1.12 vs. 0.97 points per possession), but they’re doing it much less often. It’s not for a lack of trying, the Raptors are scoring more than they normally do in transition as well, but Brooklyn is bleeding them badly off of turnovers.

Turnovers are the key stat to this series, in my opinion. When two teams are this crazy close in terms of execution (0.96 vs. 0.92 points per possession), the game is either going to come down to a coin flip outcome of who hits the last shot, or more importantly, which team is able to generate those extra couple of possessions. Whether it’s through steals, pressure, drawing offensive fouls or grabbing offensive rebounds, those extra few possessions could mean the difference between spending next week in Miami or the Bahamas. The team that has won the turnovers + offensive rebounding battle has won every game in this series except for game two, where it was too close to matter either way. Brooklyn has generated five extra possessions over the Raptors over six games between Raptors turnovers and Nets offensive rebounding. Those five possessions perfectly account for the four points Brooklyn is up by overall. If Toronto is going to win, they’re going to need to control their turnovers and control the glass.

Stand up and cheer Toronto. Say your prayers, reverse jinxes, incantations and make the appropriate offerings to the Sports Gods. Do nothing to tempt fate. Wear any and all articles of clothing that invite positive outcomes. Show no hubris, for the Sports Gods are the most angry and spiteful of all the Gods. Just ask Cleveland. For that matter, just ask James Reimer. So do whatever it is you think you have to do to appease them. It’s game freaking seven!

@marmaladejacko

  • Tinmann

    Am heading downtown now – I’ve got the best seats I’ve ever had.
    Look for me to start a F Miami chant as the seconds wind down

    • Quest

      fuck the heat is easier to chant.

    • DDayLewis

      “Cut the Nets”

      Easy 4/4 time chant, with a beat to pause inbetween.

      Or, go with timeless classics like:

      “Fuck KG”
      “PP Stains”
      “Livingston on a prayer”
      “Poopy Shoe”
      “Nice panther tattoo, DWill!”
      “Wife-y, beat-er!”
      and of course: ‘FUCK BROOKLYN”

      Seriously, fuck Brooklyn.

  • Spam

    Am not watching. Can’t take the anxiety. Will check the score at the end, and have one emotion: happy or sad, instead a a roller coaster. Enjoy it boys. Will check back here when it’s all over.

    Go Raps!

    • Steve

      Not watching either, After the second half of game 5 it’s clear:we are done! Nets in seven. Fuck’em!

    • arsenalist

      We got a smart man right here.

      • asifyouknow

        SPAM? that you say it all….

    • the dude

      I’ve been conditioned by this team to expect to be heart broken in the end. The prospect of them pulling it out this afternoon makes me so damn excited. I’m just praying they come out on fire and blow them out.

  • kayell

    Great article, can’t wait! I can tell Andrew you are crazy hyped and thus rushed through the article, there are so many errors uncommon of you!
    “razor thing…”
    “The Nets have struggled…much is the same of Brooklyn”
    “Salmons ISN’t getting minutes because of some unspoken grudge Casey has towards Fields.”

    easy, andrew, easy 😛

    • asifyouknow

      Geammmeeewwwaar policcce …lol

    • DC

      Nothing wrong with the last quote.

  • JHP

    Win or lose it’s been a great year. At the end all the fans should stand and applaud. Casey only really has 7/8 players and a dysfunctional bench. Hopefully the GM makes the team better for next year. In October no one thought this team would still be playing in May !!!

    • asifyouknow

      Are you serious? The only reason you are where you are is because of the bench. You should thank Sacramento.
      Wow I guess some folks got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning ..Too many Mulsons I guess…lol

      • kayell

        He has a point.. The starting 5 and then Vasquez, Patterson and one of Hayes/Hansborough depending on who is having a good night/matchups. Fields and Salmons are meh, De Colo has potential, and the rest are pretty much third string. But really it is 6.)Vasquez and 7.) Patterson as the only ones off the bench that bring consistency on both ends of the floor, albeit with one too many careless turnovers at times in the case of Vasquez

  • asifyouknow

    I took a look at the last six games, and something was really clear, the winning is all about DeMar. When he plays the -east/west dribbling game- rather than the north/south straight to the bucket move, Toronto loses.

    When DeMar does not kick it out to open teammates when he has no shot (tries to do circus shots) the Raptors lose.

    The ball should not be in his hands for more than a couple seconds, unless he has a clear path to the bucket or an open shot, that will nullify the Nets double team.

    We can all agree he is not very good at dribbling himself out of trouble.

    Kyle and Lowry need to do the what they have been doing when Casey give them the opportunity to run a pick and roll game. I look for 16 assist between both of them. The team needs 100 points to win this.

    Game six was a typical stubborn Casey gig, he goes into his defense cocoon and forgets that to win in the NBA you have to SCORE more than the other team.

    Salmons, Hans and Novak are you kidding me! What this team needed all game long was offense, Novak is the only one who can shot and he has not hit one since 1919.

    If they lose the series you will have to look at the silliness of Casey’s plan in game six, this should be over by now. I guess Casey wants to win games 55 to 52, good luck with that coach.

    The raptors need to push the ball and shot quickly, two three passes then shot or drive.

    Good luck Toronto.

    • caccia

      We need Hansbrough in there for defence and to grab rebounds on offence. As Andrew said, a few extra possession could win the game, and Tyler is the man. Oh, and he can score in the post.

    • DC

      “Kyle and Lowry need to do the what they have been doing . . . . 16 assists between the two of them.”
      That’s what we need – another Lowry!!

  • raptorstand

    No matter what happens its been a great year. We are the better team and if we attack we will win. I hope they show up out of the gate, if they do that we win going away. Miami here we come , Go Raps !!!

  • afrocarter

    I understand that this team has accomplished so much already, but nevertheless I’m not anywhere NEAR ready for this ride to be over. WE THE NORTH! GAME 7, BABY!!!!

  • the dude

    The team that has won the paint scoring has won each game so far in the series. This is an old school basketball type series. Rebounding and interior scoring and defense will win this game today. We’re going to need Amir and JV to dominate. They are going to have to see the ball early and often and crash the boards hard. We need to be the aggressors today. Put the pressure on Brooklyn with intensity and hard work. No more jump shots from the perimeter. Drive to the hole. Get to the line. Get them in foul trouble. Get the crowd in the game early and keep them loud the whole game. THIS IS IT, WHAT!

  • Tomas Siaulys

    Establish post early and do it all night. Eliminate turnovers, hit 3s. Toronto by 8 today!

  • the dude

    Just saw the refs for today and it doesn’t look good. God damn.

    Bill Spooner, Derrick Stafford, Joey Crawford. They are a combined 74-95-1 ATS for the home team.

    This has a NBA rigged look all over it. Watch out for Crawford today. He’ll do his best to get the Brooklyn-Miami series the NBA wants.

    • Thierry

      Can you explain the meaning of “74-95-1 ATS for the home team” ? I didn’t get it

  • DDayLewis

    Guys, FUCK BROOKLYN.

  • Argos

    Anyone know a reliable stream?

  • Bryan Colangelo

    Have to watch a shitty stream because I’m on the west coast.

    Canada, you suck.