We welcome Eric Kummel to Raptors Rapture with his first post.
Despite playing one of their worst games in weeks, the Toronto Raptors only lost by seven points in game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets, and had their chances to win the game. If Dwane Casey and the Raptors coaching staff are able to settle the team down and prepare them for game 2, the Raptors have a good chance at evening the series.
As its first order of business to secure a game 2 victory, Toronto needs to take advantage of their home crowd. In their first playoff game since the 2007-08 season, nerves seemed to get the best of some Raptor players, as Brooklyn jumped out to an early 25-13 lead. Being down such a large deficit early in the game removes the crowd from the game.
If the Raptors get out to a fast start, the momentum of the electric Air Canada Centre crowd might just be enough to carry Toronto throughout the game. Raptor fans have been waiting a long time for a playoff series; they want to cheer and bang thunder sticks for as long as they can, as often as they can.
DeMar DeRozan will need to have a better game for the Raptors to come away with a victory in game 2. This task doesn’t just fall on the shoulders of DeRozan. He will need his teammates to set good screens for him to get open, as well as being ready to knock down open shots when DeRozan is double- or triple-teamed.
The performance of the two sophomore starters for the Raptors will be critical in game 2. In game 1 Jonas Valanciunas played a solid game, scoring 17 points and grabbing a franchise playoff record 18 rebounds. The Raptors should look to continue their success in the post as Valanciunas presents a match up problem for Kevin Garnett. Terrence Ross, on the other hand, struggled to find any rhythm in game 1 after picking up three early fouls in the first half.
With all the trash talking in the media going on between these two teams, the Raptors do not want to provide the Nets with more material by heading into Brooklyn trailing 2-0. If the Raptors are able to get over their playoff nerves and cut down on turnovers, they should be able to head to Brooklyn with the series tied at one.