Nets-Raptors Playoff Series Preview
What to Look For: Look for a young Toronto team to struggle early in the series and for a seasoned New Jersey team to capitalize on its playoff experience. Chris Bosh will put up monster numbers against the New Jersey front line, but an energetic and equally narrow Mikki Moore will at least provide an active, disruptive defensive presence. The two teams split their season series 2-2, with both winning on their home courts which probably means homecourt will be a factor as the series wears on. However, New Jersey is capable of winning on the road. The Nets ended the season going 7-2 in April. Toronto ended with an 8-3 record during the same span.
New Jersey Strengths/Weaknesses: New Jersey owns the best backcourt in basketball. Kidd and Carter have carried an otherwise depleted and inexperienced team all season long. They are both excellent rebounders and passers. The Nets are thin inside and lack any sort of post scoring presence. Josh Boone, however, has emerged of late as an added scoring and defensive threat. The Nets are also missing backcourt reserve help, which means Kidd and Carter will have to log serious minutes. Eddie House is out indefinitely and Marcus Williams has hit the rookie wall.
Toronto Strengths/Weaknesses: Energy and youth have served Toronto well during the regular season. T.J. Ford was voted the TSF Most Improved Player of the Year and will have a strong series. Chris Bosh is primed for a playoff coming out party that will solidify his status as one of the league’s best stars. The Raptors will miss the inside presence of Jorge Garbajosa who broke his leg last month. Also, Juan Dixon, the team’s only real outside shooter outside of Peterson, has been struggling with his range.
How They’ll Match-up: The match-ups offer favor New Jersey in at least three out of the five positions on the floor. Kidd is coming off one of his best seasons. Carter has suddenly become a triple-double threat. Richard Jefferson is finally healthy. Jefferson should be able to impose his will on either Morris Peterson or Joey Graham. Bosh will dominate whoever guards him.
The X-Factors: Neither team is especially imposing up front. Bosh, while big, is not a serious shot-blocking threat. Nesterevic is also not a threat on the interior. Carter wants this series badly and understands that a part of his legacy will be defined by how he and the Nets fare. Kidd realizes he’s running low on playoff opportunities. Bostjam Nachbar has been playing exceptionally well of late and has emerged as a fourth scoring threat. His confidence is through the roof and his range is unlimited. For the Raptors, the return of Andrea Bargnani could make all the difference, though that is unlikely. T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon will need to play out of their minds every night in order the Raptors to have a chance at winning.
Series Prediction: New Jersey’s big, experienced backcourt will be too much for the Raptors. New Jersey wins in six.