1. Richard Jefferson played with a confidence I've never really seen from him in a big game. He's had strong playoff games before, great nights when he's had bigger numbers than his 24 points and five rebounds, but the huge plays he made to close the series were the stuff of go-to guys. Because of all the attention on Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, Jefferson is definitely a No. 3 option -- and most of the time he plays the part in the clutch. But in Game 6, he rewarded Lawrence Frank for going to him with it all on the line by hitting a spinning, twisting layup that started with his back to the basket. If Michael Jordan had made it, that shot would be etched in our minds forever.
Instead, it was Jefferson. Go figure.
Then he went out and ended the night with a series-clinching steal, saving the Nets on both ends. These surprises sure are coming in bunches.
|Richard Jefferson's 24 points don't begin to tell the story on how well he plays in Game 6. (Getty Images)|
Yes, that's a joke.
What can you say about Kidd that hasn't already been said? He's come back from microfracture knee surgery better than anyone in the history of the game, and he's one of the greatest point guards of his generation, although somehow he still feels underrated.
Kidd routinely makes the game easy for his teammates, and did so this entire series. He lent the biggest hand to Carter, who needed his backcourt mate to help him absorb all the distractions associated with facing Toronto.
3. Anybody who wants to say Sam Mitchell got out-coached in this series is looking for an issue that isn't there. Mitchell did what he could to help his team prepare for a situation most weren't familiar with, and the Raptors proved to be quick studies. Although the deciding play turned out to be a turnover, the design actually worked. Chris Bosh was open over the top and Jefferson made a fantastic play on a pass Jose Calderon left short. What more do you want out of Mitchell, anyway? He got a 20-win improvement out of his team, and gave them a shot to win a series where the Raptors were dwarfed in terms of experience. Frank made Chris Bosh more of a passer, so Mitchell and his star adjusted. Bosh ended up with seven assists, and Toronto ended up with a chance to win.
If Mitchell has coached the Raptors for the last time, his replacement has a tough act to follow.
4. Speaking of potential swan songs, Morris Peterson has probably seen his last game as a Raptor. The contract of the leading scorer in Toronto history is expiring, and he probably won't be back given the abundance of wings under contract. A fan favorite, it was fitting that MoPete ended his career battling for the only team he's known instead of languishing on the bench. He had fallen completely out of the rotation earlier this season, but fought his way back and played over 40 minutes in the Raps' elimination games. His final major contribution was forcing Carter into a turnover, and that came after he had knocked down a long jumper. Both were strong notes to go out on.
5. Let's lament on what we didn't get to see on Sunday afternoon. It really might have been a national holiday in Canada.
"Hate Vince Day."
Canadians favor their holidays and their afternoon basketball, and it would've been a treat to see the venom they would've thrust upon Carter with so much on the line. How would he hold up in that atmosphere? That's the type of reality TV I'm into.