Nets’ Physicality Overwhelms Raptors

Ken Cross

April 28, 2021 at 10:47 am.

TAMPA, Fla. – Mike James was signed to a 10-day contract out of the Euro League last week by the Brooklyn Nets and by the looks of things, he may be staying around to give the Nets needed guard depth for a while.

James scored 11 points at key moments in the fourth quarter to push the Brooklyn Nets to a 116-103 win over the Toronto Raptors in Amalie Arena on Tuesday evening.

After Toronto’s Malachi Flynn hit a floater in the lane, the Nets’ Joe Harris and Blake Griffin hit a pair of threes to tie the game at 90-90. Then, the Raptors went on a 12-2 run (see below) to take control of the game.

The physicality of the Brooklyn defense was a tough adjustment for Raptors. Pascal Siakam was only 2-for-15 from the floor and Fred VanVleet made only four of 16 shots.

Toronto closed the third quarter on a 20-7 run where the Raptors took an 83-80 lead after three.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant were both back on the floor together for Brooklyn as Durant finished with 17 points and Irving had nine.

Jeff Green led seven Nets in double figures with 22, while Kyle Lowry led all scorers for the Raptors with 24.

Three Stars of the Game:

1 – Jeff Green (22/8/1) – Green was a tough matchup with his physicality and ability to get to the basket on offense. He made three triples, but was hard for Toronto to stop off the dribble.

2 – Blake Griffin (17/6/1) – This might have been Griffin’s best game since his return. He was 6-of-11 from the field, but his output on the boards and setting screens was positive in 22 minutes of play.

3 – Kyle Lowry (24/2/6) – Lowry was made for the big stage like a matchup such as this and he scored 11 of Toronto’s first 13 points in the third quarter to keep Brooklyn from taking command as he put the Raptors in position for that 20-7 run.

It was over when: Harris and Griffin hit the back-to-back threes and then Harris’s triple at 8:15 gave the Nets a 93-92 lead that they would not relinquish. James finished the 13-4 run with a triple as Brooklyn went up 100-92 with 6:01 to play.

Nothin’ but Nets: The addition of Griffin, along with the physicality that Durant and Green brought on defense, was noticeable as Toronto is averse to any physical big men except really for newly acquired Khem Birch. The connectivity of this team is still in question especially when you throw James Harden in when he is once again healthy. How happy was Irving that he was the only Net who was not in double digits?

It’s A Rap’: Toronto needed all of its guns blazing to be able to step up and deal with the Nets, who were missing Harden. The Raptors have to go get a couple of physical big men in the off-season season in free agency that will allow them to be able to play in a half-court game when the game is slower and the opponent is defending at a higher level.