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Toronto faces Brooklyn in First Round Eastern Conference Matchup

The Toronto Raptors, winners of the NBA Atlantic Division, host the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs in what should be a very evenly contested best of seven series.

To start the season, neither team looked to be a contender for the postseason. Brooklyn was underachieving after putting together a lineup of All-Star players, while Toronto looked like a sure lottery team for this year’s NBA draft.

However, both teams were able to flip the switch. The Raptors went on to win the Atlantic Division and are a No. 3 seed, while the Nets were able to land a No. 6 seed.

In the four games, the teams played head the head each won two. Entering the postseason, Toronto seems to be carrying more momentum have won 9 of their past 12 games overall.

Brooklyn has lost 4 of its past 5, although that could have been planned. Brooklyn might have consciously decided to lose its No. 5 seed to sidestep the Chicago Bulls in round one.

Toronto enters the best of seven series with an overall record of 48-34, while Brooklyn is 44-38.

The two start their series in Toronto on Saturday with a 12:30 p.m. tipoff. Game 2 will be played on Tuesday.

Brooklyn’s season can only be described as a roller coaster ride. Predicted to be a contender prior to the season starting, and then called a pretender with a 4-12 start, the Nets started 2014 with a 10-21 record. However, they started the New Year with a 10-1 run and added a 12-4 run in March.

The once thought to be old and tired roster has become experienced and crafty. Thoughts now are whether Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce can use their experience of winning an NBA Championship to help the club or will their age be a negative when wins matter the most.

Brooklyn is looking ahead, otherwise they would not have lost four of five to end the season to avoid Chicago in the first road, and have a potential showdown in the second round with Miami a team the Nets swept this past season in head-to-head games.

Toronto started this season 7-12. They traded Rudy Gay with fans thinking the team would soon implode. After the trade, the Raptors were 41-22 and a top 10 team in efficiency on both offense and defense.

Toronto and is young and inexperienced making this matchup one of polar opposites. Second year player Jonas Valanciunas is just 21 years of age, but the impact he has in this series could swing the pendulum in the favor of Toronto.

During April, the 6-foot-11 center is scoring 18 points and grabbing nearly 12 rebounds per game.

For the Nets, Deron Williams will be key. The Nets point guard has had an up and down season with injuries, but of late has come on strong. His battle with Toronto’s point guard Kyle Lowry should be the biggest single matchup of the series.

Pick: Experience will help carry the Nets to a win in the series 4-2.

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