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Raptors Look To Fend Off Nets

The Nets were victorious in Game 3. Can Toronto now earn a rare road win?

The Nets were victorious in Game 3. Can Toronto now earn a rare road win?

The Toronto Raptors haven’t won on the road in the playoffs since 2001. If they’re to salvage this season they’ll need to do exactly that when they visit the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

Tip-off at Barclays Center in Game 4 of this Eastern Conference first round matchup is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.

After Friday’s 102-98 loss in Brooklyn, Toronto heads into Sunday’s game looking to avoid falling into a 3-1 hole. Head coach Dwayne Casey and his players will be only too well aware of the implications of trailing Brooklyn by two games.

The Nets haven’t dropped three in a row since a stint between January 27 and February 1 saw the side lose to the Raptors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers. With a ton of playoff experience on the floor and on the bench, the Nets don’t look like they’ll drop three in a row during this series either. That makes Sunday’s trip to Barclays Center a must-win game.

The Raptors have been historically awful on the road during the postseason though, registering a 3-16 record away from The Queen City over seven playoff campaigns. The side’s last road win came in a 96-93 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals back on May 6, 2001, the only time the Raptors have ever advanced beyond the first round.

Since that date, Toronto has lost 13 straight postseason road games.

While history tells us that the Raptors are just about dead and buried, the team shouldn’t be written off just yet.

Friday’s game demonstrated that Toronto has the grit and determination to compete. Despite playing poorly for much of the game, the Raptors somehow managed to sink a sharp talon into the Nets and claw their way back into the game. When all was said and done, Casey’s side was very close to snapping that long losing skid, and that has some thinking that all is not lost for the Raptors just yet. A win on Sunday will really set this series up.

Guard Kyle Lowry was banged up during Friday’s game, suffering a knocked knee, split lip and busted nose, but he’s expected to take to the floor again on Sunday.

At the other end of the conversation, Brooklyn will be looking to close out this series as quickly as possible, setting up a second round series with, in all likelihood, the defending champions, the Miami Heat.

The Nets played solid ball on Friday night, getting double-digit scoring from Joe Johnson (29pts), Deron Williams (22pts), Paul Pierce (18pts) and Andray Blatche (12pts). But the Raptors’ late surge will leave the team with more than a smidgen of doubt as it prepares for Game 4.

Johnson and Williams have very much been the catalyst for the side, combining for an average of 44 points per game. They’ll need to keep that up moving forward.

Meanwhile, head coach Jason Kidd should expect the Raptors to serve up a healthy dose of Jonas Valanciunas in Game 4. In his first playoff run, the big Lithuanian is averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds, having recorded three straight double-doubles. He had a quiet game on Friday – just 10 points and 10 boards! – but posing a massive matchup problem for the guard-orientated Nets, he could be a huge factor the deeper this series goes.

In terms of precedent, this year’s series between the Nets and Raptors continues to mimic their matchup in 2007. The Nets took games 1 and 3 in that series too. If you’re still keeping count, the Nets earned the win in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead, which eventually became a 4-2 series victory. The Raptors did not win a road game in the series.

Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets odds for 04/27/2014

Brooklyn (-185) opened as the moneyline favorite over Toronto (+166).

Toronto is now just 1-4 at Barclays Center in the short history of the building and will be desperate for an upset win as the two sides meet in Game 4.

The spread opened at 4 points, the same margin between the two teams in Game 3.

Each side has covered the spread once during this series, both away from home, with Game 2 finishing with a push. The two sides also split the regular season series in terms of the spread, both covering twice in four games and once on the road.

The total opened at (192).

After the total went under in the open, the over has paid out in the last two games, a trend that’s in keeping with the regular season head-to-head, which saw the over pay out in three of four games.

Game 5 will see the series return to Toronto on Wednesday.

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