If the Raptors are just happy to be in the playoffs they will be out of them pretty quickly. The Nets have made it pretty clear that they targeted the Raptors to be their first round opponent. Go back further though and Terrence Ross as part of a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) said that the Raptors wanted to face the Nets. So it is safe to say that with this series of Division Rivals it is likely to get heated in a hurry.
Many look back to the Raptors last team to win the Atlantic Division that faced this same Nets franchise and it was a similar storyline. The much more experienced Nets against the young upstart Raptors. The main difference in that series was the presence of Vince Carter the public enemy of Toronto. Still a lot of things that applied to that series apply to this one as well.
The pressure in this series is squarely on the Raptors to begin with. They will have to defend their home court while trying to get out all the playoff butterflies that are sure to be there. A task the Raptors in 2007 were not able to accomplish losing the first game of the series and having the play catch-up the entire rest of the series. The main advantage this Raptors team would have compared to the 2007 Raptors is the ability to win on the road. That might be negated by the fact the Nets will be playing in Brooklyn not New Jersey and the excitement level of that crowd will be far greater you would have to imagine.
The Nets entered this season with big expectations and in the regular season they failed to live up to them. The Raptors entered the season with next to no expectations and a fan base that had strong support for looking to land a top pick to draft Andrew Wiggins. So the biggest thing the Raptors may face is the whole mindset of being happy to be here. Even the idea of brighter days ahead is nice to think and say but nothing is for certain. That begins with Kyle Lowry who will be a free agent when all of this playoff madness comes to a close. Things like injures and other unknowns can always happen.
If the Raptors have any kind of doubt the Nets will smell it like a shark smelling blood and the veteran team they have should be able to take advantage.
The other key to this will be the Raptors struggle to close out close games. It has been the one thing that the Rudy Gay trade has cost this team. Gay was the clear choice to finish games out and take the big shots. The Raptors have struggled to find a replacement for that. Lowry has at times filled the role or attempted too. DeRozan has as well both failing to have positive results.
The advantage in coaching experience the Raptors have is somewhat balanced out by the fact Kidd played under Casey in Dallas and should have a fairly clear understanding of his defensive sets and philosophies.
It should be a good series but all the little intangibles in it seem to favour the Nets if you’re looking at it objectively. Objectivity has been in short supply during the last month or so when it comes to the Raptors performance. This team being declared the best of all time for having the most wins is really not exactly putting much thought into things. These Raptors do however do one thing that will serve them well in these playoffs and that is they always seem to fight and scrap no matter how far behind they might get. They will give you an honest 48 minutes of effort. It just might not be enough.
If you have any hopes of the Raptors winning this series they must win Game 1 if they fail to do so I see a fate that is very similar to that of the team in 2007 that lost to this Nets franchise.
Boo and hiss at me and hope as I do that I am wrong but I see this series as the Nets in 6 games.