(Long Island, NY) With the Knicks once again leaving their fans thirsty at the playoff watering hole, basketball fans in New York have two choices. Turn on sitcom reruns during the NBA post-season or become followers of the New Jersey Nets. Considering the recent fortunes of both clubs, it may not be a bad choice.
The Nets qualified for the playoffs once again and headed to Toronto to face the Atlantic Division champion Raptors. Vince Carter made his return to the arena he once called home for Game 1 last Saturday. The former Raptors star heard the boos every time he touched the ball.
“I didn’t come here to worry about the crowd and the response, I came here to win a basketball game,” Carter said to reporters. His words rang true after the Nets took away Toronto’s home court advantage with a 96-91 win. Carter went only 5 for 19 from the field, and scored 16 points.
Richard Jefferson was the Nets’ high scorer with 28 points, and Jason Kidd chipped in eight points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds.
Game 2 took place on Tuesday and the Raptors needed a split to salvage the set. They gained their first playoff victory in five years with a 89-83 decision. Prior to the game, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.
Chris Bosh, the talented young big man, had a double-double (25 points, 13 rebounds), while Anthony Parker led the way with 26 points.
“We need Anthony Parker to play like that,” stated Mitchell to reporters following the win. “He was just unbelievable tonight.”
The Nets’ big three put up impressive numbers, but were unable to pull out the game in the final minutes. Carter (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Kidd (14 points, 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles and Jefferson had 13 points, all scored in the second half.
Now the series shifts to the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey. Game 3 is Friday night and will be a ‘swing’ game in the best of seven series. Figure this one to go the full seven games. These teams match up fairly well and are familiar with one another, playing in the same division. The Nets lead in the experience factor, players
and coach. Lawrence Frank knows what lies ahead for pressure packed post-season games.
The Nets also have more veterans than the youthful Canadian club. They also know how to handle the situation at hand, and will not let it get to them. The same thing cannot be said about the Raptors. A must-win Game 6 or 7 may be the type of situation the Nets want to put Toronto in.
However you slice it, the Nets should be able to contend in the watered-down Eastern Conference for the next few season. And by then, they will be ready to move into their brand new arena in Brooklyn, the Barclays Center.