The Raptors took on the sixth-place Brooklyn Nets last night in what was a close game throughout. The Nets were without some key players in DeMarre Carroll and Spencer Dinwiddie, but they regained Caris LeVert, who was lost to a gruesome leg injury earlier in the season.
The Raptors won 127-125 on a Kawhi Leonard game-winner in the Scotiabank Arena.
Here are my takeaways from that game:
1. The Nets Might Make it Past the First Round of Playoffs
Let me be clear: the Brooklyn Nets will make it no further than the second round of the playoffs, in which they will almost certainly play one of Toronto, Boston, Philadeplhia, or Milwaukee. In fact, the only scenario in which they don't play one of those powerhouses is if two or more of those teams lose in the first round. That's not happening.
The Nets, if the Eastern Conference standings remain the way they are now until April, which is extremely unlikely, will play the Indian Pacers in the first round. Given that the Pacers lost their best player, Victor Oladipo, for the season, that matchup would be the best-case scenario for Brooklyn. If the Nets see the Pacers, don't be surprised to find them in the second round of the playoffs.
2. Brooklyn's Three-Point Shooting Is for Real
The Nets shot the lights out against the Raptors last night. As a team, they made nearly half of their deep shots (20-41). Most of those came from Joe Harris (who will be competing in the three-point contest this weekend) and Allen Crabbe. Harris hit an astonishing 7 of his 8 attempted threes for 21 points, and Crabbe was 6-10 on the night. D'Angelo Russell contributed two threes of his own.
That high volume of threes taken and scored might seem fluky, but it's actually far from it. Harris and Crabbe are both extremely efficient from deep, with Crabbe hitting 40.7% of his treys, and Harris hitting 46.5% of his. The entire Nets roster outside of one or two of their big men can knock down a deep shot. Three-point shooting is one of this team's biggest weapons.
3. Marc Gasol Proved Himself in Just His Second Game
Gasol played just 19 minutes in his first game as a Raptor, down from his season average of 33.3. Against the Nets, he played 22 minutes, but was exponentially more productive in that time than he was against the Knicks on Saturday.
In New York, Gasol put up 7 points and 6 boards in 19 minutes. In his home debut as a Raptor against the Nets, he put up 16 points and 6 boards in 22 minutes, including an 11-point fourth quarter.
He also had two beautiful assists last night, both of which were prime examples of the difference between him and JV - his passing. He would have had a few more if Norman Powell could have hit an open three or two.
Patrick McCaw, also a relatively new Raptor, also had himself a game, putting up 13 points and 3 boards to go with some phenomenal defence in 20 minutes.
The Raptors play the struggling Wizards at home on Wednesday, and the Nets look to bounce back against the lowly Cavs in Cleveland the same night.
*All stats courtesy of basketball-reference and nba.com