The Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors continue their back-and-forth first-round series in Wednesday night’s Game Five from the Air Canada Center for a shot at a 3-2 series lead.
The Raptors have relied on their youthful back court and a young center playing against seasoned Nets veterans, while Brooklyn’s has shown its age in the second half of each game.
Neither team has been able to string together two straight wins, and the series is knotted at 2-2 after Toronto claimed an 87-79 victory in Game Four despite squandering a 17-point lead while forcing 16 Nets turnovers.
The young Raptors have put themselves in position to potentially win the franchise’s first playoff series in 13 years behind excellent scoring from guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas dominating his veteran Nets counterparts down low.
DeRozan has scorched Brooklyn during his debut postseason series averaging 24.5 points, largely attacking the rim for 12 free throw attempts a game and hiding his 36 percent shooting from the floor. Lowry has complemented DeRozan with 18.3 points, five assists and 5.5 rebounds per game in the series.
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“We are not playing a shabby team here,” Nets center Kevin Garnett said to the NY Daily News. “We respect our opponent and understand they can put a lot of points up. Believe me, if we had that thing that you put in a bottle to shut it down, we would have used it already and used it more often. We are playing a very good team and we respect them and we got to figure out ways to close better in that second half.”
Toronto has also controlled the glass throughout the series, outrebounding 175-139 including a 52-30 effort in Game Two and much of the credit belongs to Valanciunas, whose averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds with 1.5 blocks against the Nets Garnett.
Neither team has shot especially well from the field throughout the series, but Brooklyn will need to address their poor shooting from the beyond the arc. Through four games the Nets have shot 22-for-88 from the three-point line.
Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson has stepped up his scoring effort for 19.5 points on 60.4 percent shooting during the playoffs but the Raptors held him to only seven shots in Game Four. Forward Paul Pierce has also shot well at 46 percent from the floor, but Brooklyn needs more from point guard Deron Williams and its bench.
Williams has shot 39.3 percent from the floor for 17.8 points, but is also committing nearly three turnovers a game and the Brooklyn bench, which was fifth in the NBA with 37.8 points per game during the regular season, has seen its production drop to 23.7 points during the playoffs.
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: NBA TV
Live Stream Info: A live online stream is available through NBA TV’s main Web site.
Point Spread: Toronto -3
Over/Under: 191 points
Prediction: Toronto over Brooklyn, 93-87