TORONTO --The headline in Saturday’s Toronto newspaper read, "Raptors vs. Dinosaurs," a claw in the face of the Brooklyn Nets’ veteran roster .
Here’s a suggestion for Sunday’s headline: "Dinosaurs 1, Raptors 0."
Or "Dinosaurs Not Extinct!"
The unflappable, experienced Nets shook off a raucous crowd and an energetic Raptors team to take Game 1 of their NBA Playoff series, 94-87, in Air Canada Centre.
Led by Deron Williams and Joe Johnson - 24 points each - the Nets controlled the pace and forced 19 turnovers, leading to 17 points. In other words, they played their game.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce – aka the "dinosaurs" - each made clutch shots in the final three minutes. Garnett had eight rebounds and Pierce scored seven of his 15 in crunch time.
“If we angered them or whatever, that’s for them to figure out,” Paul Pierce said. “Our job over here is to come with the proper mind-set, come with the intensity to go out here and win this series.
“Everybody’s going to try and use something for bulletin-board motivation. To me, the motivation is a championship. I don’t need somebody to be like, 'Say this, say that; oh, they said this, they said that.’ My motivation is to win a championship.’’
Game 2 is Tuesday night and the Raptors need to rethink their entire approach. They just lost the home-court advantage.
Led by coach Dwane Casey, who validated this city’s ridiculous belief that the Nets tanked their last two games to slip to the No.6 seed and face Toronto instead of the Chicago Bulls, the Raptors learned that rhetoric and emotion don’t trump experience and poise.
It was Casey who declared, "Be Careful What You Wish For." Bet he wishes he had more playoff experience on his roster.
The Raptors’ playoff inexperience started right at the top. GM Masai Ujiri was so excited for the game he used an expletive to the crowd before tip-off. By halftime, Ujiri was apologizing and the Raptors were on their way to losing the home-court advantage.