SportVU Preview: Toronto Raptors (3) vs Brooklyn Nets (6)
The Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets open the playoffs in the No. 3 vs. No. 6 opening round matchup in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The series tips off with Game 1 on Saturday, Apr. 19 in Toronto (12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The two teams split their season series at two games apiece and both made dramatic turnarounds during the season.
For the Raptors, the turnaround was sparked by the trade of Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in early December. The Raptors were 6-12 at the time of the trade and went 42-22 the rest of the way to win the Atlantic Division, return to the playoffs for the first time in six years and with home-court advantage in the first-round. Home court could prove to be important for the young Raptors as they face a Nets squad full of playoff experience.
For the Nets, the turnaround coincided with the change of the calendar year from 2013 to 2014. The Nets were struggling against great expectations early in the season and lost All-Star center Brook Lopez to a season-ending foot injury in December. But improved health for the rest of the roster and the use a smaller lineup fueled the Nets to a 34-17 record in 2014, tied for the sixth-best mark in the league in that time.
We take a closer look at some of the key matchups in this series with the help of SportVU player tracking technology. The SportVU data allows us to look at specific player vs. player matchup stats in a variety of categories such as drives, rebounds, the amount of time each defender spent guarding a player and much more. How did Kyle Lowry perform when being guarded by Deron Williams? How about Joe Johnson against the defense of Terrence Ross? Check out the stats below to find the answers.
And for additional statistical analysis on this first round matchup, be sure to check out John Schuhmann's numbers breakdown on NBA.com.
|S. Livingston||K. Lowry||21:55||1||5-10||50%||0-0||0%||1||1-2||14||0||2||11|
|K. Lowry||S. Livingston||21:27||2||10-18||56%||4-9||44%||7||1-1||8||0||0||25|
|J. Johnson||T. Ross||19:13||1||6-17||35%||1-6||17%||5||8-8||6||1||0||21|
|T. Ross||J. Johnson||18:19||1||5-10||50%||4-9||44%||1||0-0||1||0||0||14|
|A. Johnson||P. Pierce||17:05||0||2-6||33%||0-0||0%||2||4-4||0||0||1||8|
When matched up with a member of the Nets' starting backcourt (Livingston and Williams), Lowry has been exceptional, scoring 38 points in 34 minutes and shooting 15-of-26 (57.7%) from the field and 7-of-14 (50.0%) from beyond the arc.
|Shaun Livingston||Deron Williams||Paul Pierce|
While Johnson has not shot the ball well from the field (6-of-17, 35.3%) or from three (1-of-6, 16.7%) when being guarded by Terrence Ross, he has used the drive to draw fouls and get to the free throw line, where he is a perfect 8-of-8.
|Terrence Ross||John Salmons||DeMar DeRozan|
|Shaun Livingston||Kyle Lowry||14|
|Kyle Lowry||Deron Williams||10|
|Kyle Lowry||Shaun Livingston||8|
|Paul Pierce||Amir Johnson||8|
|DeMar DeRozan||Alan Anderson||7|
|Joe Johnson||Terrence Ross||6|
|Shaun Livingston||DeMar DeRozan||6|
We mentioned earlier how well Lowry has shot the three against the Nets this season, well he's returned the favor on the defensive end, giving up 8-of-11 (73%) shooting from beyond the arc when he is the defender.
During the regular season DeRozan excelled at finishing when guarded by Joe Johnson, scoring 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
|Alan Anderson||Joe Johnson||Shaun Livingston|
In just under 11 minutes defending Kevin Garnett, Valanciunas limited the Big Ticket to four points on 2-of-9 shooting. But in nearly the same amount of time defending either Mason Plumlee or Andray Blatche, Valanciunas' defense disappeared, allowing the duo to score 18 points on a perfect 9-of-9 shooting.
|Kevin Garnett||Mason Plumlee||Andray Blatche|