With a 3-0 lead for the first time in franchise history, the Raptors look to dispatch the pesky Nets and complete the sweep.
First things first, Es’s three points:
They say “revenge is a dish best served cold”. Six years ago, the Raptors were a young, up-and-coming team who had made the playoffs as a surprising 3rd seed. In a heartbreaking game 7, the veteran Nets prevailed after Paul Pierce denied Lowry’s game winning attempt. Though it’s not as satisfying with both teams and organizations looking drastically different all these years later, sending the Nets home is still vindicating for Raptors fans.
The Brooklyn Nets have been battered by injuries and players leaving/not entering the bubble. Despite this, Jacque Vaughn has gotten his guys to play hard and compete. For a rag-tag group of G-league call-ups, role players and promising young players, the Nets have done the best they could.
That being said, the Toronto Raptors have made this a lopsided series. Gone are the days where the Raptors would be one of the last teams playing in the first round. Aside from game 2 where the Nets came out swinging and made radical changes to their defensive schemes, the Raptors have been in complete control of the series. For a Raptors playoff series, everything has gone according to plan thus far and it’s been weirdly without the mass panic of years past.
In game 3, we got to see more of OG Anunoby as the primary defender on Caris LeVert. Anunoby has blossomed into an elite defender in our league and has given LeVert fits all series long. On this sequence here, Anunoby put LeVert in a straight jacket and combined with the dig from Siakam, forces a live-ball turnover.
Even when LeVert thought he had space, OG blows it up with a perfect closeout and contest. OG’s combination of strength, lateral quickness, athleticism and defensive instincts make him extremely tough to score on and LeVert has learned that firsthand this series.
Aside from the great defensive performance, the Raptors got a huge lift off of the bench in game 3. Norman Powell has had back-to-back huge games for the Raptors. The Nets just have so much trouble containing Powell’s burst on his drives and he’s been getting to the rim at will. His benchmate Serge Ibaka continued to punish the Nets smaller players with a 20-point 13-rebound performance in game 3. Terrence Davis is trending upwards after another energetic and impactful showing in game 3. The bench, which has struggled in the bubble, is starting to find their rhythm again, which is a good sign as the Raptors go deeper into the playoffs.
For the Nets, they continue to fire away from deep and will do so again in game 4. They’ve taken 134 three’s in 3 games and made just 43 of them, good for 32.1%. Vaughn has adopted the pace and space philosophies of the new NBA and you can see it in the way the Nets move the ball. The Nets have recorded more assists than the Raptors in 2 of 3 games in the series and have had a handful of nice offensive possessions.
One name to look out for in game 4 is Tyler Johnson. The Raptors have done a good job making LeVert’s life miserable and have adjusted to contain Luwawu-Cabarrot (that and his hot shooting has come back to Earth) in the series. Johnson knifed through the Raptors defense and got deep dribble penetration on a number of possessions in game 3. He’s got the playmaking abilities to make the right pass after collapsing defense and a nice soft touch to finish around the rim as well.
Again Johnson creates the dribble penetration and this time gets the tough floater to go over Gasol and with Lowry right behind him.
Johnson has also shot the ball really well from three over the past 2 games and without Joe Harris, the Nets are going to rely on getting offensive production out of Johnson. He did score 10 straight points in the 3rd quarter for Brooklyn and kept the Nets attached for the first few minutes of the second half. Johnson won’t blow you away, but he can get hot in spurts and the Raptors should be prepared to defend him in game 4.
Overall, the Raptors have shown that they are the superior team in every game this series. Be professional, get the job done and secure that franchise first sweep.
Tip-off: 6:30 pm EST
TV: TSN 1/3/4
Radio: TSN 1050
PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis II
SG: Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Matt Thomas, Paul Watson
SF: OG Anunoby, Malcolm Miller, Stanley Johnson
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher
C: Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Dewan Hernandez
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (knee) –
- Patrick McCaw (knee) – day-to-day
- Oshae Brissett (knee) – out indefinitely
PG: Caris LeVert, Chris Chiozza, Jeremiah Martin
SG: Tyler Johnson
SF: Garrett Temple, Justin Anderson, Dzanan Musa
PF: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Rodions Kurucs, Lance Thomas
C: Jarrett Allen, Donta Hall
- Jamal Crawford – (hamstring) – out indefinitely
- Joe Harris, Michael Beasley, Taurean Prince, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Wilson Chandler, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant – not in the bubble currently
The last seven seasons have truly been special and this team just keeps getting better and better. For Raptors fans old and new, enjoy this team and this playoff run.