Spanarkel's keys for the Nets in Game 2The YES analyst breaks down how Brooklyn can grab control of the series
The Brooklyn Nets held on to defeat the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Saturday, and will head into Tuesday's Game 2 in Toronto looking to bring a commanding series lead back to Barclays Center.
Game 2 can be seen on YES, with coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 7 p.m. Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel will have the call of the game starting at 7:30, and ahead of the biggest night of the Nets' season, Spanarkel caught up with YESNetwork.com to look back at some key factors from Game 1 and preview Game 2.
Spanarkel on how the Nets' experience advantage plays a role in this series:
It plays out in various ways. For example, at the end of the game, with about 2:43 to go in the fourth quarter it was a four-point game, and that's exactly where the Nets want to be, whether they are up by a few or down by a few. They want to be in a position to win the game in the last five or six minutes, where Jason Kidd has the opportunity to put in whomever he wants because he has managed minutes throughout the game, and throughout the season.
Johnson, Livingston, Williams, Pierce and Garnett are all are confident down the stretch of a game, and it forces the Raptors to play straight up because you do not know which player is going to beat you even though the Nets rely on Johnson and Pierce at the end of close games. They are all capable of beating you. They are all smart, and they understand mismatches. For example, Johnson and D-Will played better statistically throughout game, but it was Pierce who came up with the big shots at the end.
This team is built for the playoffs; the extra time in between games can really be a help to the Nets. The first four games of this series are postured pretty nicely for a veteran team such as the Nets. It's sort of like the Yankees in baseball; they always tried to get into a position to get to Mariano Rivera at the end of the game, and you put yourself in a position throughout the course of a game to maximize your chances of winning at the end of the game.
Pierce is playing five-to-seven years younger than he is, and it provides a great deal of confidence to his teammates knowing that coming down the stretch of games. He has a nasty disposition as a competitor, which you need, and which is contagious. Garnett is the same way, but is not relied upon as much down the stretch. He has the same intensity and focus as Pierce, which is contagious among teammates in the playoffs.
Spanarkel on Jason Kidd's playoff coaching debut:
He did very well (facing a raucous crowd Saturday). He's been through a lot as a player, and was probably thinking "this is no different than when I played." He didn't let the atmosphere rattle him or the players. You try to build for consistency (with your lineup) throughout the season, and he's been very comfortable with the bench throughout the regular season. And, even though his bench got outscored on Saturday, it still weathered the storm.
Spanarkel on the Nets heading into Game 2:
The team averages about 23 three-point attempts per game during the regular season, and they were 4-for-24 on Saturday. The bench was 0-for-12 though, and the expectation is for the bench to settle down, get into a routine, and contribute and score in Game 2. I think that the Nets stay with that number of three-point attempts, as long as they continue to look to probe first - look to pass or go down low and not "settle" for a three. They have to confident with their three-point shots; in the playoffs, each possession is so important, they must make sure it's a good shot, not a hurried shot.
Spanarkel on the Raptors heading into Game 2:
The Raptors will probably try to focus on a few positives from Game 1. Kyle Lowry played well and DeMar DeRozan (3-for-13) will probably want to be more aggressive and more pro-active, so I won't be surprised if you see the Nets continue to keep a second defensive player in his space and to keep the ball from him in his comfort spots on the floor. Terrence Ross wasn't a factor, so I expect him to be more involved and more aggressive.
The Raptors turned it over 19 times in Game 1, so look for them to quicken the pace and use their youth and speed to see if that can become a factor. I think Raptors will indeed pick up the pace a little bit, run up and down the court more. They need to look for opportunities to push the ball. They had problems against the Nets' half-court defense, so they have to look for transition buckets, get down the floor and get into their sets quickly, making a quicker first pass to get their offense started faster.
All in all for the Raptors, Game 1 was a four-point game with 2:43 left; their bench played well but their leading scorer did not play well, and they defended the Nets from three-point line well, so they shouldn't be overly concerned but they should hope to get off to a quick start to benefit from the loud crowd. I am sure their coach is pointing out that even though they lost, they still had an opportunity to win the game even though they did not play their best game.
One concern for the Raptors is how are they going to slow down Joe Johnson? He's proven that he can score against anyone, he didn't have to shoot the three, and he's proven he can pass the ball out of double teams. How can the Raptors match up with Johnson? Most likely sending a second defender at Johnson when he is within 15 feet of the basket.
I can see also Jonas Valanciunas getting more touches.