Nets fans should be in full throat during critical playoff contest
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Some sound advice for Brooklyn Nets fans in advance of Game 3:
Forget Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri’s insulting pre-Game 1 “F-Brooklyn!” diatribe.
Forget the fact that a north-of-the-border tabloid has referred to the older, more experienced Nets as “Dinosaurs” compared to the younger Raptors.
Forget the notion being circulated that Brooklyn tanked during its final five regular-season games in order to get a more favorable postseason matchup.
Forget the open 3-pointer Paul Pierce missed at the Air Canada Centre in the waning moments of Game 2 on Tuesday night that very well may have buried the playoff-novice Raptors before they even showed up in Downtown Brooklyn Friday night.
Forget all that, and just remember.
Remember what it was like on the night of May 4, 2013, when the banged-up Chicago Bulls walked out of Barclays Center with a stunning 99-93 win in Game 7 of the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Remember what it was like to watch as the Bulls celebrated their advancement while the Nets sulked back to the locker room, admitting to a man that they did not show enough toughness and resiliency to move on in the postseason for the first time since 2007.
Remember the pain of 17,732 fans, hearts broken and shoulders slumped, making their way down to their respective subway platforms after confronting the grim reality that “Wait ‘Til Next Year!” was the only rallying cry remaining in their arsenal.
Remember that the Nets’ public address announcer, the dread-locked David Diamante, had to implore the home crowd to “Make some noise!” on more than one occasion when Brooklyn was down late at critical junctures in that now-infamous series.
Remember it all, and don’t let it happen again.
Though they won a franchise-record and NBA season-high 15 games in a row on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues earlier this year, and went 28-13 overall at home during the regular season, the Nets are only 2-2 in their state-of-the-art facility during the playoffs.
And that’s just not good enough to advance at this time of year, especially not when the Raptors have three games – if necessary – remaining in Toronto.
Brooklyn fans, and I mean all 17,732 of them, including missing-in-action owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who is expected to be in the building Friday night, must be ready to roar from opening tip to final buzzer during Game 3.
The Raptors, whose playoff experience is admittedly thin if not completely transparent, admitted following Game 1 that they had some jitters and wilted down the stretch against the likes of proven championship performers like Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
And that was with more than 20,000 Canadians on their side.
It’s up to the home crowd in Brooklyn now to rattle the Raptors further, to make each of their possessions an ordeal, to make a walk to the free-throw line at Barclays Center feel more like a trip to the gallows.
It’s up to Brooklyn fans to shake, rattle and roll, raise the roof and make the Raptors feel as unwelcome as possible for 48 straight minutes, if not longer Friday night.
"I don't know if you can say 'F Brooklyn' and then come into Brooklyn,” Garnett noted shortly after Game 2, doing his best to send a message to the fans fortunate enough to be in attendance for Game 3.
“So we're about to see what it's like.”
What it should be like is deafening and disturbing to the opponent, from the moment they step on the herringbone-designed hardwood for layup drills until they get on the team bus back to their hotel.
Whether it will be or not is up to those who are expected to fill the building to its gills Friday night.
Come one, come all and, most importantly, come strong Brooklyn.
This is your chance to make a difference regarding whether the Nets are high-priced pretenders or battle-hardened contenders.
So bring it from start to finish and don’t forget to remember what it was like just shy of a year ago when you last had an opportunity to make some noise in a game as big as this one.
“That’s one thing that concerns me about our young team is going into a hostile environment,” Toronto coach Dwayne Casey admitted on Wednesday.
Make sure his “concern” is a legitimate one.
It’s up to you Brooklyn.
Nothing But Net: The Nets have been out-rebounded by a whopping 97-67 count in the first two games, something they’d better improve on in Game 3 if they hope to take a 2-1 edge in the series. ''We understand we're a more athletic team than [the Nets],” noted Toronto F Patrick Patterson. “For us to get to the glass every single opportunity we have that presents itself is what we need to do. There shouldn't be a game in this series where we get out-rebounded by them. … Brooklyn will also be looking to improve on its 3-point shooting after going a combined 11-for-37 in Toronto. … The Raptors were 22-19 on the road this season, tying them with Miami and Washington for the best mark away from home in the Eastern Conference. … For all the talk about the Nets’ eagerness to avert a rematch with the Bulls in the opening round, Chicago now finds itself down two games to none against Wizards with the series headed back to Washington.