Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
(AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

The Brooklyn Nets had every chance in the world to get back on Wednesday but unfortunately fell short at home against the Toronto Raptors.

Matt Brooks

This loss hurt.

Following up Monday’s valiant performance against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Brooklyn Nets came into Wednesday’s game feeling confident. Brooklyn had matched up with Toronto fairly well this season, even pulling off an upset victory in early December.

Toronto got out the gate strong, fueled by the scoring punch of Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. Kawhi finished with 26 points and put on a post-move clinic against the Nets. He torched D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie on multiple switches, as neither defender had the size nor defensive chops to lock down Toronto’s small forward.

However, it was Pascal Siakam who looked like the star against the Nets. Siakam was unstoppable on the drive, attacking from above the break on multiple occasions before executing a flurry of spin moves to finish gorgeous layups at the cup. Siakam finished with a game-high 28 points, thereby putting an exclamation point on his Most Improved Player candidacy. He also grabbed 10 rebounds.


Speaking of rebounds …

My goodness, the Nets were unable to secure a board.

The Nets fought hard during this game, cutting the deficit all the way down to five points halfway through the fourth. This was led by the Nets’ D’Angelo Russell who dropped 27 points and made 5-of-10 three-pointers.

On the other side of the court, the Raptors were giving the Nets every opportunity to get back in this game. As a team, the Raptors only shot 41.9 percent from the field.

But, on what felt like every missed shot, they were able to crash the boards with ferocity. As a team, the Raptors grabbed a whopping 17 rebounds (to get an idea of just how ridiculous this is, Oklahoma City leads the league in offensive boards; they grab 12.4 per game).

In fact, four of the 10 players who saw the floor for Toronto were able to grab a minimum of nine rebounds: Kawhi Leonard, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and Siakam.

Brooklyn Nets

A lot of this can be attributed to Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to run a lineup without a nominal center during the final two minutes. Jarrett Allen — although he played well on Wednesday with 12 points and nine rebounds — has had some serious deer in the headlights at the end of games.

Toronto took advantage of Atkinson’s decision and exposed Brooklyn’s biggest weakness: size, down low.

Unfortunately, this was probably Brooklyn’s best shot at winning a game until the season finale against the Miami Heat. On Saturday, they play a Bucks team that has manhandled them all season long. Then, on Sunday, they head to Indiana to play the Pacers on a brutal road-and-road back-to-back.

With just a half-game lead over ninth-place Miami, Brooklyn will need to steal one this weekend.



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