The Brooklyn Nets lost in heartbreaking fashion to the Toronto Raptors in overtime. Yet again the Nets squad battled back giving themselves an opportunity to win versus one of the Eastern Conference top squads. The game was a mixed bag of each team having quality moments, defensive lapses and key player injuries.
Brooklyn Nets – Learning How To Win:
Ultimately, the one difference in the loss came down to the Raptors being used to closing in the clutch. That may sound like a simplification. Yet, there was a time in DeMar DeRozan‘s career when his Raptors battled nightly, but could never push through to capture the victory. When he and his team learned how to manage those precious last play sets to capture the win they became a different team. Brooklyn will get there if they continue to play like they are.
The major takeaway from this loss however is the Brooklyn Nets have lost three games to the top two teams in the conference by a cumulative six points. Kenny Atkinson’s choice to dial back hoisting up three-point shots and put more emphasis on the defensive end is paying dividends. While the win column may not accurately reflect this choice, the team is frankly right on the precipice of breaking through. Being within one score twice against the Celtics and tonight against the Raptors punctuates that fact.
Moreover, the Nets are doing this without the services of D’Angelo Russell who incidentally worked out with the G-League squad which points to the possibility of his return being around the corner.
Dual MVP Chants at Barclays:
Spencer Dinwiddie was at his very best for the majority of the game utilizing his size at the point to break down the Raptors defense. Whether it was via drives to the basket, creating for his teammates or hitting pivotal shots from deep. Dinwiddie’s last shot attempt was probably more rushed than necessary. But, he is so close to clearing the hurdle which will translate into victories instead of losses.
Near game end, Dinwiddie stepped to the line the Barclays Center crowd serenaded him with chants of MVP. His stat line of 31 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals reflects his workman effort on the evening. Dinwiddie’s aggressiveness paid off via his nine free throw attempts. This was exactly the same number as the current Eastern Conference Player of the Week – DeRozan received.
Inevitably, the Raptors will rue the fact they didn’t wrap things up when up by double digits late. DeRozan said in the post-game interview Toronto was well aware of how well the Nets have been playing and knew the Brooklyn Nets wouldn’t just concede. Barclays also housed a number of Toronto Raptors fans who also chanted MVP when DeRozan was at the free throw line late in the game.
The only time I recall something similar happening was last season when Russell Westbrook was nearing matching the Oscar Robertson triple-double record. In this instance, however, those teams (Orlando, Denver) were not chanting the same refrain to their own players. By night’s end, DeRozan boasted a stat line of 35 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block. Ultimately it was DeRozan’s final shot and free throw that pushed the Raptors over the top.