The NBA Playoffs begin on Monday, with the second game taking place at 4:00 PM ET in Orlando, FL. The series features the #7 Brooklyn Nets taking on the #2 Toronto Raptors.
There is no pressure on Brooklyn this time, playing without most of their top talent in the bubble. And yet, they were one of the hardest teams to beat because they play hard, and they play together. This is not going to be easy for the Raptors. This is a scrappy, resilient unit.
The goal for the Raptors will be the same as it was last year. Don’t go until you’ve won the entire thing. The 2018-19 champs don’t have Kawhi Leonard anymore, but they have plenty of talent and a system that works exceptionally well.
This is a team that is as much of a title contender as the Bucks, and they proved that within the bubble. Nick Nurse is one of the best coaches in the NBA. And it should come as no surprise that they dominated all year.
The Raptors are set as 9.5-point favorites, with the over/under set at 222.
#7 Brooklyn is Ready
While they are extremely short-handed player-wise, heart-wise, the Nets are as tough as any of the remaining 16 in Orlando. Caris LeVert has played like a superstar without Kyrie in the lineup, making the All-Bubble second team. He can score from anywhere on the floor and is also an elite ball distributor.
Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris have also played like leaders, with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Garrett Temple serving as absolute snipers, draining the threes from all over the floor. They will need to make 15-20 threes if they want to keep pace with the defense-to-offense Raptors.
They will have to limit turnovers and make sure that multiple players for Toronto don’t have big performances. Out of Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet, only one can afford to go off. If not, blowout city.
#2 Raptors Begin Title Defense
The circumstances are very different than they were last year, but the chance to run it back is certainly there for the Raptors. They probably wish they could have matched up with the struggling Magic, but they’ll have the play the card they were dealt.
Every time these teams have met in the playoffs, the Nets have won the series. Paul Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry’s attempt to finish game seven and end the series last time. This is a very different Raptors team several years later, and the Nets are missing a lot.
They’ll look too share the love and get looks for all their starters in the early portion of the contest. Watch for Siakam to go off , with VanVleet following right behind him. This will be an entertaining contest.
Nets Make Things Interesting
The opening game of the series will be a close one. So make sure you bet on it as such.
Free Play: BKN +9.5
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