Saturday, April 19, 2014

Raptors - Nets

Toronto is faster and more athletic at every position. Brooklyn has more size and shooting ability. In a match-up like that, the team that controls tempo has the advantage. Toronto wants the game going up-and-down as much as possible, which allows them to use their speed and get easy shots. Brooklyn wants the game in the half-court - they want to pound it inside and then swing it around for open 3's.

Toronto was at their best when they could play in the open court and run into 3's. In the half-court, their offense stagnated and stayed on one side of the floor. Brooklyn didn't have to double-team anyone, so there was not much ball movement. Since neither Amir Johnson or Jonas Valanciunas could stretch the floor, Brooklyn packed the paint and dared Toronto to beat them from the perimeter.

The primary culprit for their lack of ball movement was DeMar DeRozan, who had 14 points on 3-13 shooting. He was just taking really bad shots - he couldn't create any separation on the Brooklyn defenders and he ended up hoisting a lot of tightly contested step-backs. He was at his best when he was getting to the rim and drawing fouls, which is something Toronto needs to emphasize going forward.

I would expect to see more Patterson as the series goes on, since Johnson can't really leverage his size against Paul Pierce. As a stretch 4, Patterson opens up the floor for Toronto to attack the rim more than Johnson. The other thing Toronto needs is more Terrence Ross, as foul trouble limited him to only 16 minutes. He didn't get the ball very much - it was sticking to Lowry and DeRozan too much.

Toronto needs to speed up the game in general, especially when they are playing at home. Brooklyn doesn't have a lot of guys who are going to blow by you, even if you are pressing up on them. You don't want to let them walk into their offense, you want to make them work to get into anything and force the issue. Brooklyn had only 8 TO's - that will be a category to watch all series.

That's what is going to make Brooklyn a tough out in the playoffs - they want to play at a slow pace and it's hard to turn them over. They are really good at imposing their will on the game, in terms of tempo. The game doesn't necessarily slow down in the playoffs. What happens is there are teams who want to play slow and it becomes very hard to speed them up, especially when they are at home.

When you spin it forward in terms of match-ups, you would think Toronto wants to get this game as fast as possible. They could move DeRozan to the 4 and have him play Pierce, which would allow him to play in more space. Lowry-Ross-Vasquez would be their fastest and best shooting perimeter trio - you could even throw in Patterson at the 5. Brooklyn won't kill you on the glass, either way.

This will be an interesting chess match between Dwane Casey and Jason Kidd. Casey was an assistant when Kidd won a title with Dallas - they both watched Rick Carlisle play the match-up game over those playoffs. Kidd won Game 1, which leaves the first move to Casey. He has to speed the game up - Toronto needs the games to be in the 90's-100's. If Brooklyn can keep it in the 80's, they will be in good shape.

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