Currently holding the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, the Nets would not meet the Raptors in the opening round if the standings do not change before the end of the season, as Toronto is in the No. 3 spot. However, with only two and a half games separating the two at this point, nothing is certain yet.
After meeting four times during the regular season, both sides came out with two victories. A failed inbound pass cost the Nets one of those contests, but that memory isn’t what makes the Raptors an opponent Brooklyn doesn’t fear.
Instead, it really comes down to two things – roster and familiarity. Given that they both play in the Atlantic division, neither team will really be able to surprise the other. That certainly doesn’t work against Nets coach Jason Kidd, as playing outstanding basketball for the past three months indicates he and his team don’t need the element of surprise to win.
Moving on to the roster, Toronto doesn’t present the sorts of issues that other potential opponents such as the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards would. Chicago plays with the kind of heart no other team in the league does, which the Nets witnessed firsthand last season after losing a Game 7 to it at home. Meanwhile, Washington has a much better mix of young stars and quality veterans than Toronto does – a combination that is very difficult to take down in the playoffs.
Throw in the fact that the Nets were unable to beat the Wizards even once in three meetings this season, and it’s clear they would like to stay away from them as long as they possibly can.
The Raptors, on the other hand, they shouldn’t mind seeing at all.