Boy did the Brooklyn Nets come out blazing in the first quarter.
They came out hot, doubling the Raptors and wanting to prove that they ain’t no easy team to beat. But, the Raptors went on a 13-0 run to close the gap late in the quarter with the Nets responding with a 7-0 run of their own.
The second quarter was an even battle with Brooklyn leading 53-50 at the end of the half.
The Nets came strong out of the gates in the second half, re-energized and ready to put the game away. But, alas, it was not meant to be.
The Raptors controlled the game in fourth quarter. The Nets botched a 3-point play to tie things up with 14 seconds remaining on the clock to hand the Raptors a 2-0 series lead with the final score being 104-99.
Here are 3 takeaways from this unexpected, neck-and-neck Game 2:
Lowry, VanVleet, and Playoff Powell Come Up Big
All three players had a combined 69 points and were the key, impact players that kept team in the game. Through the horrid shooting night from every player on the team, they managed to pull it together and comeback against the structured Nets.
Powell had some big moments down the stretch, pouring 24 points off the bench, including this huge, energy-building poster on Kurucs.
VanVleet also had big moments including a 10-0 run which helped the Raptors comeback versus Brooklyn and dropping 10 assists to go along with 24 points. While Lowry lead the team as he usually does every night by adding 21 points.
Toronto’s back-court needs to impact every game the way they did if they want to have a chance at making a deep run into the playoffs. They control the pace of the game and lead the team by example.
Jack Vaughn’s Game-plan Nearly Worked
There is a saying that says to learn from one’s mistakes, not forget them.
Jack Vaughn must’ve taken these words to heart.
He pumped up his team and created such a game-plan that shut down the Raptors for most of the night. His strategy was to control the transition game and avoid using the half-court offence which is something he had accomplished for a large portion of the game.
He stepped in as an interim Head Coach after Kenny Atkinson was fired and has largely contributed to the success of his team right now.
Caris LeVert had another tough shooting night but still made an impact by dishing out 11 assists. Vaughn also utilized Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen to their strengths, and they played a big role in creating Brooklyn’s offence.
First-time all-star Pascal Siakam has failed to make much of an impact throughout his time in the bubble.
He had 18 points in Game 1 and followed up with another mediocre performance only dropping 19 points in Game 2.
He has to find a way to return to his all-star form if the Raptors want to have any chance to run deep in the playoffs and that has to start with dominating the easier matchups against the Nets. He played well for a stretch in the Raptors’ comeback in the first quarter but was unable to make much of a difference there on out.
Siakam must figure it out and return to being the primary scoring option (it seems as though Fred VanVleet has taken over that role at this particular moment in time).
He played well on the defensive end in the clutch moments of the fourth quarter but was dry on the other end for most of the game.
He needs to keep shooting to get out of this slump and star players usually figure out a way to get their game back.
All in all, it was a tight game between two well-coached teams. Don’t expect the Raptors to shoot this horribly in games to come and the Nets might have a chance to steal the game if they keep up this level of play throughout the series.
The league saw two No.1 seeds upset in their first games but nobody should expect the Nets to make such a statement.
Raptors need just two more wins to seal the series.
And that is what they most probably will do.