They thought it was over. The fans did. The commentators did. Mr. Whammy probably did too. How could anyone blame them?
You could, however, blame the Brooklyn Nets for thinking that way as well. Up 15 points with only about four and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Nets went into cruise control, and before they knew it, the Toronto Raptors were down by only one.
For Brooklyn, the biggest takeaway of the night isn’t the fact that they held on and regained the upper hand in the series. Instead, it has to be a lesson that was nearly learned the hard way. If the Nets want to advance to the second round of these playoffs, they need to show this opponent more respect than they did last night over those final few, inexplicable minutes.
A couple of missed free throws by Toronto with less than 20 seconds remaining, followed by two huge conversions from the stripe by the one and only Paul Pierce, are all that allowed the Nets to narrowly escape with the 2-1 series lead they assumed was easily in the bag just minutes before.
Despite Brooklyn’s boasting the greater collection of overall talent on the floor every night, the Raptors have proven through three games that they aren’t fazed by this disparity at all. Their heart, along with the belief that they should win this series, is what makes them a much tougher out than the Nets expected.
That all means Brooklyn cannot brush off the way Game 3 ended. If they do, they won’t get as lucky once again.