Friday, May 04, 2007

RJ & N.J. Snuff Out the Raps

Nets 98, Raptors 97 (Game 6): Nets win series 4-2.

- While getting deeper in the 4th, I was preparing to write about how this was another instance of the Nets' poor late-game execution costing them a game, but Jefferson saved them. The Nets were making careless TOs (had 19 overall), missing some free throws and having some trouble stringing fluid offensive possessions together to push away from the Raps. And Bosh started to come alive at the worst time from the Nets' perspective.

- On the last play, Jefferson did a good job fighting Bosh for position, and Calderon miscalculated the arc on the entry pass, something that's rare since he has impeccable touch on lobs & he rarely makes mistakes (his only TO of the game). But then again, RJ made a fantastic play.

- This game & series could be an object lesson for Dirk & the Mavs about what attacking the painted area with abandon can do for your team's prospects. Vince & Jefferson knew they had the advantage off the dribble and they kept the Raps defenders on their heels all game. Although, Vince almost wiped a lot of his goodwill away by taking a questionable 3pt. with about 40 secs left.

-Though Vince only shot 6/19, he was aggressive most of the nite and he was putting pressure on the defense thru-out. One sequence in the 3rd, he drew 3 fouls in a row which helped NJ get in the bonus early. Also right around the same time, he just missed a corkscrew lay-in, but cleared space for Mikki Moore to slam in the miss. These are things that don't show up in the box score, but things that positively effect your team when you're aggressive (Hello, Dirk). Jefferson was equally potent attacking the Raps defense; I mean, how bout that the winning bucket. Jefferson was rewarded for his effort with 12 FT attempts (11/12) on his way to 24 pts.

- Can't say enough about Kidd's play in this series. Averaged a triple-double for the series and had 18, 15 assts & 8 rebs in Game 6. He shot 3/6 from 3pt. and he was surprisingly sharp all series from deep--18/41 (44%). His defense has been solid as well, especially in help situations. Was huge in the 3rd quarter with some super passes and pushing the pace when the opportunity presented itself. After shooting 0/7 from 3pt. in Game 5 & missing the series-ending 3pt., Boci Nachbar regained his long-range prowess with some big 3pt chucks & some strong finishs--15 pts, 3/5 from 3pt.

- For a guy who has struggled all series, Bosh came alive at the last possible instance. He was nearly unstoppable in the lane in the 4th quarter--13 pts in the quarter. He was also a constant presence on the baseline on defense impeding many NJ paint forays. Bosh's rough 1st half led to a 8/22 overall nite, but Bosh still added 9 assts, 7 rbs, & 3 blks.

- Raps were stroking their jumpers thru-out the 1st half, and jumpers were pretty much exclusively their offense until the 4th. And the pts in paint numbers back this up--32 to 20 in Nets' favor. The Nets left the Raps PGs tons of space to shoot their jumpers once again, and Ford & Calderon responded pretty well again--Ford 19 pts on 7/10, Calderon 14 on 6/12. Bargnani (17 on 6/11) & Parker (12) had their jumpers on the mark as well.

- The Raps have to feel more than pleased just making the playoffs this year. Should get over this series rather quickly. The loss of Garbajosa was bigger than most realize. Looking ahead to next year, Raps could use someone on the wings that can slash to the rim. Really only their PGs are adept at getting deep in the lane, and the gameplan on both guys is to sag off, so those creases are bottled up a lot. And this is what the Nets did well all series--collapse around the lane. I expect Sam, or who is ever coaching next year, to insert Bargnani next to Bosh in the starting lineup which should help spacing for Bosh & Ford/Calderon to operate.


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