Raptors-Nets Game 2 Preview: Does experience beat atmosphere?

By Zach Harper | NBA writer

Do the Raptors have the experience to beat out the Nets?  (USATSI)
Do the Raptors have the experience to beat out the Nets? (USATSI)

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Previewing Game 2 of the Raptors-Nets first-round series.

1. Where We Are: 20,000 screaming people inside the building. 10,000 screaming fanatics outside of the building. Enough energy in the air to power the building that was holding the game. Even the Toronto Raptors' general manager was screaming expletives at the Brooklyn Nets. It didn't matter. They weathered the storm early, rode their two All-Star guards throughout the game, and let Paul Pierce shut the door on a raucus crowd as he explained to everybody in the building, "This is why I'm here."

The Nets took Game 1 on the road because their experience allowed them to tune out the craziness surrounding the court and just focus on the court. It wasn't the inexperience of the Raptors necessarily that kept them from winning that game; it was the experience of the Nets that allowed them to take home court advantage away immediately. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson combined for 48 points and Pierce had nine of his 15 points in the final quarter when Brooklyn shut the door.

For the Raptors, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas led the way but Amir Johnson, DeMar DeRozan, and Terrence Ross all let the team down. Greivis Vasquez was the only bench player who managed to truly make an impact, other than a short stretch that saw forward Patrick Patterson rattle off a few quick points to tie the game.

2. The Big Number: Eight. The Nets only turned the ball over eight times in this game. While they're a team that finished pretty middle of the road when it comes to turnover rate, the Raptors were ninth in the NBA in forcing turnovers. Dwane Casey's game plan has to find a way to be aggressive and get the ball going the other way. It's tough with three ball handlers almost always on the floor for Brooklyn, but more traps and harder double teams inside could disrupt some of the calm of the Nets' offense.

3. Key Adjustment: The Raptors need to get shots going toward the basket. Putting Patrick Patterson and Steve Novak on the floor more could really open things up for the Raptors. They need to find shots moving toward the basket and having stretch-4s who can spread the floor and give better driving lanes could be the key to breaking down this Nets' defense. DeMar DeRozan only had four of his 13 shots in the restricted area and the Raptors as a whole attempted just 33 shots in the restricted area. They need more attempts at the rim.

4. The Big Story: Will the experience of the Nets beat out the atmosphere in Toronto again? The first game jitters are gone and the task of showing the Raptors and their fans that keeping this team together and not shipping off parts for the future was the correct decision. The atmosphere was great in Toronto but it didn't affect the Nets. Can it drive the Raptors though? Can they find a way to feed off the energy and channel it into their play, especially their defense, a little bit more or is this team too gimmicky?

5. The Facts: 7:30 p.m. ET. Brook Lopez is still out with a foot injury that ended his season. The Raptors are expected to have a full bill of health for the game.

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