After his awful mistake to blow Game 5, Andray Blatche guaranteed that the Brooklyn Nets would win Game 6 and behind a dominant first half, the Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 97-83 to tie the series at 3-3 at the Barclays Center on Friday night.
“It was do or die,” Blatche said. “We wanted this game. We were hungry for it. We came out aggressive on offense and defense and we came with a lot of energy.”
Before the game Jason Kidd said that he was keeping everything the same, but he made one little change, he swapped Shaun Livingston for Alan Anderson in the starting lineup and the move paid off. Anderson, a bigger threat from deep, helped the Nets spread the floor better and kept the Raptors from keying in on Joe Johnson so much. It lead to nine points from Johnson in the first quarter and seven from Anderson in the second.
“It was just a feeling,” Kidd said. “It’s nothing that Shaun hasn’t done for us. It was more of a feeling amount the coaching staff, the way that he played for us in that fourth quarter up in Toronto, to see if he could carry that over and he definitely picked up where he was in toronto; rebounding the ball. We’re asking him to guard DeRozan and he had some great looks that he normally feels he can make so that’s why we went with him.”
Kidd was fined $25,000 before the game for some remarks he made about the officiating after Game 5 and it turned out to be a wise investment. Kyle Lowry had previously done a great job getting to the line with some questionable plays that many considered flops. One play, Lowry tried to make it look like he took a charge against Andray Blatche, but the refs didn’t call it for once and it resulted in a four-point swing in the Nets favor.
Speaking of Blatche, he did manage to backup his words with a decent game. He played well on both sides of the court as he finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks, including six points and six rebounds in the first half. Kidd even showed enough faith in him to finally go with him over Mason Plumlee as Kevin Garnett‘s backup as Plumlee has really struggled in his first playoff series in the NBA.
Things got a little interesting in the third quarter. The Nets built the lead up to 26 points, but the Raptors answered back with a 12-2 run that cut the lead to 16 and it seemed like things began to unravel. It was Blatche that hit a layup to stop the run and D-Will, who hurt his ankle to kind of start the run, that hit a 17-footer to reestablish a 20-point lead with 1:40 to play in the third.
The one player the Nets had trouble with all game long was, of course, DeMar DeRozan. He finished with 28 points on 8-for-18 from the floor. Luckily for Brooklyn, he was really the only effective Raptor on Friday night as the rest of the team finished shooting just 22-for-60 (36.67 percent).
D-Will finished with a team-high 23 points and four assists, Johnson had 17 points, Garnett 13, Pierce 12 and Anderson had nine points with nine rebounds. The Nets shot 46.8 percent as a group, held the Raptors to 38.5 percent, out-rebounded them 45-42, despite nobody with 10 boards, and only committed 12 turnovers to the Raptors’ 14.
This was a big win for the Nets, but they cannot let up against the Raptors. All of their games before this one had been close and the way they dominated Friday night means little. They still have to go up to Toronto on Sunday night, where their crowd has totally energized them, and come away with a road win. It won’t be easy.