After the injuries in the first two thirds of the season, the Nets are still not quite sure what they are. But winning the longest winning streak in the NBA showed what they can be.
A Nets team that survived at the bottom of the league but fought against the better teams faced the challenge against the best. They almost won wire-to-wire against Toronto 101-91 on Wednesday, stopping the defending champion's streak in 15 games.
"You have to try everything. If you play a team that you can't beat, you have to be open to other things, ”Kenny Atkinson said before the game. "We were never afraid of it. It is in the realm of possibilities that you can see different content, different reports. We have to find a way to slow them down.
"Overall, I am very happy with our defense, but we have not found a way to stop them against the Raptors. … I know our level of performance, our level of competition has to be two levels higher. … We have to limit our mistakes, limit our mistakes. We have to we are approaching a perfect game to beat this team. So good they are. "
Caris LeVert had a team high of 20 points and seven rebounds and Joe Harris added 19 points. But it was the defense that led the Nets (25-28) to the win on Monday in Indiana and the win on Wednesday with the chants “The series is over!”. from 15,823 at the Barclays Center.
"This is a huge win for us," Harris said in a television interview in court. “Best team in the league, hottest team in the league, Indiana plays well. Two great victories for us. "
Toronto averaged 121.2 points in its 15-game series, shooting a total of .504 and .406 from below. But the dwindling defense of the nets put an end to all of this and choked the Raptors 37.8 percent off the ground and only 13 out of 43 percent behind the arc.
"The last team I remember when I played like this was when San Antonio really got it rolling," Atkinson warned. "No matter who played. You just kick people out and keep rolling. That's Toronto."
The Nets battled victorious teams 5-18 last weekend after losing six and all nine on the road. But they look like a team about to break through.
The Nets nearly got into confusion on Saturday in Toronto, fending off an 18-point deficit in the third quarter before taking a one-point advantage over the defending champion.
Then they celebrated their first street win against a winning team in Indiana on Monday. They did it against Toronto (40-15).
The nets ran most of the first half, albeit with modest pillows. It was 46-40, 1:04 in the half after Chris Boucher dipped in when the Nets used the momentum in the locker room.
Kyle Lowry commits a badly advised foul on Harris and gives the sniper three free throws. And after a Lowry turnover with a half-minute break, he added a dagger 3. Harris celebrated with the same fist pump and flex he had against the Pacers on Monday, and the Brooklyn Brigade celebrated with him.
The Nets started their break at 12 and made up for the same lead they had at halftime four days earlier in Toronto.
The Nets led the break with 52:40, the second fewest points they had in the first half of the season. It was day and night after their defensive performance on the road against the champions when they were back between 66 and 54 during the break.
Brooklyn saw the Raptors several times at 10, including 86-76 in the middle of the fourth quarter. But after meticulous scrutiny of the ball, Spencer knocked Dinwiddie off the glass with a kiss. Then he turned a three-point game into a 91:76 lead on the next crash.
The clock was still 5:14, but the competition was over.
Serge Ibaka had a game high of 28 for Toronto and Fred VanVleet 22. Jarrett Allen had 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Dinwiddie added 17 points, nine assists and six boards.