In the very first game of the 2014 postseason, the Brooklyn Nets held off the Toronto Raptors for a 94-87 victory to take a 1-0 series lead.
Thanks to 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists from Joe Johnson, 24 points from Deron Williams and timely shooting fr0m Paul Pierce, the Nets were able to steal home court away from the Raptors.
The Nets raced out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter and the Raptors looked a little flustered. Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry kept the Raptors afloat, compensating for the disappearance of several Raptors’ starters, including leading scorer DeMar DeRozan.
Lowry finished with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds while DeRozan wound up with 14 points, but shot just three-of-13 from the field and was non-factor in the game.
Jonas Valanciunas was outstanding, finishing with 17 points and 18 rebounds, but the Raptors got no help from their other two starters – Amir Johnson had just two points and three rebounds in 21 minutes and Terrence Ross had three points and three rebounds in 16 minutes. Had Greivis Vasquez not come off of the bench to score 18 points, dish out eight assists and grab four rebounds, the Nets likely would have run away with this one.
The Raptors closed the gap in the second half, even taking a 76-75 lead with just 5:13 to go. After back-to-back buckets by Johnson and Kevin Garnett pushed the Nets’ lead back to three, Pierce extended the lead to 82-76 with a three-pointer with just 2:58 to go. Pierce would proceed to hit a layup and two more back-breaking jumpers in the next two minutes to put the Raptors away.
Pierce finished with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Game 2 will take place Tuesday in Toronto at 8:00 pm EST and the game is on NBA TV.