NBA PLAYOFFS ~ ROUND ONE
GAME ONE FINAL:
BROOKLYN NETS: "The Truth" - Paul Pierce Offers Up A Lesson In The Fine Art Of Closing Out Playoff Games.
Nine of Paul Pierce's Fifteen Points Came In The Final 3:30 Of The Game.
Paul Pierce finished unlike any Brooklyn Nets player ever has prior to his arrival. Game One in Toronto demonstrated exactly why Billy King rolled his dice on Pierce, as well as Kevin Garnett. In the final 2 minutes of the game, the ball was in their hands, and they delivered Brooklyn to victory on the road against a tenacious Raptors team.
From the onset, the Toronto crowd heckled Kevin Garnett - KG SUCKS! - and he did. Garnett couldn't buy a shot. The Nets opted to get him the ball early, but he missed the Nets first three attempts of the game. He was only 1/5 for the game, and 3/6 from the line. But, his 1st basket came in the 3rd quarter, a free throw, which tied the game 51-51 at the 9:02 mark. Then, his first field goal of the game was nothing short of clutch. He gave the Nets a 79-76 lead with 3:30 left. Looking back, they were two of the several stabilizing moments in the game.
Kevin Garnett led the team with 8 rebounds, 7 defensive. But more than anything, he combined with Paul Pierce in handling the ball with very sure hands in the closing three minutes of the game. His ability to gain the high elbow, and pass back and forth with Paul Pierce on the wing, without panic, exemplified their respective playoff experience at its finest.
For all Kyle Lowry's and Deron Williams' efforts, the respective back courts were still playing to a stalemate with less than 5:00 left in the game - 32 points each. That's exactly when Paul Pierce started taking over.
Nine of Paul Pierce's 15 points came in the last 3:00 of the game. With 2:57 to go, Paul Pierce's three-pointer opened up an 82-76 lead. He followed on his next possession with a layup to make it 84-78 Nets. At 1:30, he jumper made it 86-78 Nets. After Greivis Vasquez responded with a three, Paul Pierce answer back with another jumper to give the Nets an 88-81 lead, with just 51.5 seconds left.
Once the Raptors resorted to fouling and stopping the clock, Brooklyn ensured the ball was in Joe Johnson's hands. Mr.Big Shot nailed 4 free throws in the closing seconds to secure a 94-87 Brooklyn victory.
While Pual Pierce provided the finishing touches in Game One, it was Deron Williams and Joe Johnson who spent Saturday's opening game in the trenches.
Joe Johnson led all players with 45 minutes, while Kyle Lowry was a close second with 44 minutes. Johnson tied for the game lead with 24 points. Joe also pulled down 8 rebounds, and distributed 8 assists. He was 62% from the field on 8/13 shooting, and a perfect 8/8 from the line.
Deron Williams issued his opening statement with conviction, and won small victory over Kyle Lowry, who finished with 22 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. Deron Williams tied Joe Johnson with a game high 24 points. He also had 3 assists and a rebound. Deron was 40% from the field on 8/20 shooting, and 6/6 from the line.
The Nets got out-rebounded again. Mason Plumlee put himself into foul trouble, and through three quarters, the rebounding disparity was considerable. Garnett, Joe Johnson and Andray Blatche closed the gap somewhat, but Toronto won the battle by a 45-37 margin. The Nets had absolutely no answer for Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, who dominated the glass with 18 rebounds, and also added 17 points, and 2 blocks.
The Raptors also distributed six more (22-16) assists than Brooklyn.
Brooklyn suffered from poor shooting from several members: Garnett 1/5; Blatche 2/5; Mirza Teletovic 1/6; Marcus Thornton 0/4. That equates to 20% FG average.
Toronto may want to limit their turnovers (17) in Game Two, but at the same token, several Nets just need to improve their accuracy.