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Starting Five: What we've learned so far

The Nets and Raptors have tangled for two games. So what have we learned? David Cooper/Toronto Star/Getty Images

Here’s what we’ve learned through the first two games of the Brooklyn Nets-Toronto Raptors first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Nets can’t rebound: OK. So we knew this already. It has been a problem all season. During the regular season, the Nets ranked next-to-last in rebounding differential (minus-4.8 per game). So far, it’s Raptors 97, Nets 67. Even for a team as bad at rebounding as Brooklyn, that’s awful. It’s not something that you can really expected to be corrected given that the Nets like to play small, but it’s certainly something that they can at least narrow the gap. That would be helpful, anyway. Ugly Game 2 stat, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: The Raptors grabbed 50 percent of their missed shots Tuesday, which ties the highest offensive rebounding percentage the Nets have allowed in any game since April. 10, 2011 (also against the Raptors).

Brooklyn needs to make 3s: Eventually, they probably will. The Nets are 11-for-48 from 3-point range (22.9 percent). It’s not like they’ve taken bad shots; in fact, most of them were open. It’s just a matter of knocking them down. Brooklyn ranked 11th in 3-point accuracy during the regular season (36.9 percent). That’s a much more realistic number. Look for some sort of normalization here.

The first six minutes of the fourth are scary: That’s because Nets coach Jason Kidd likes to rely on his bench during this time. In Game 2, the reserves were minus-three over the first 5:42 of the final period. It’s important for the bench to somehow play even basketball while the starters sit. Fans would probably like for Kidd to go to his starting group a little earlier, but he has been doing this kind of thing all season.

Gotta go to Pierce: Paul Pierce played hero in Game 1, but couldn’t do so again in Game 2. Still, he’s the guy that has been taking the big shots for Brooklyn down the stretch. Given his prowess for delivering in the clutch, it’s really a no-brainer. Pierce’s seven-point performance on Tuesday night was just the eighth time in his playoff career (138 games) he has scored in single digits.

The Raptors turn the ball over a lot: So much for Dwane Casey’s plea to take care of the ball. Two games. Forty turnovers. Twenty-three Brooklyn steals. At least the Nets, true to who the are, are creating turnovers via steals.

Toronto found its Joe stopper: Joe Johnson had 24 points in Game 1 and had 16 through the first three quarters in Game , including 12 in the third. But then Casey put Landry Fields on Johnson, and Fields was able to neutralize him. Johnson had just two points in the fourth. Wonder if we’ll see more of Fields on Johnson as this series progresses. You’d certainly think so.

DeRozan turned things around: He was 3-for-13 from the field in Game 1. He scored 30 points -- 17 of them in the fourth quarter -- in Game 2. And this note from ESPN Stats & Information: DeRozan was 1-of-5 for two points with Johnson as his primary defender in Game 1, compared to 5-of-7 for 10 points in Game 2. And what exactly was up with the Nets giving up 75 percent shooting to the Raptors in the fourth quarter of Game 2? Not good.

JV a tough cover for KG: Jonas Valanciunas has racked up 32 points and 32 rebounds through the first two games of the series. That’s scary good. And not a good thing if you’re Kevin Garnett.

The D-Will vs. Lowry matchup is fun: Their numbers in Game 2 weren’t great, but these guys are fun to watch. Game 1 went to Deron Williams (24 points). Game 2 went to Kyle Lowry (14 points, nine rebounds, six assists). When they’ve been on, these guys have been huge difference-makers. But they’ve also been ineffective for stretches as well.

Kirilenko’s playing time a question mark: Andrei Kirilenko didn’t play in Game 1. He did play in Game 2, producing four points, four steals and three rebounds in 20 minutes. It’ll be interesting to see if and when Kidd decides to deploy Kirilenko for the rest of the series.


Question: The Nets seemed pretty happy with a split in Toronto. Are you happy with it? Let us know in the comments section below.

In case you missed it: Pierce called the Nets’ effort on the glass “soft,” while Garnett says you can’t say “F Brooklyn and then come into Brooklyn.” Plus Ohm Youngmisuk’s column on Pierce not being able to come up with the big shot two games in a row.

Lint rolling: Yeah, that was rapper Drake using that lint roller on his pants as the game was going on. Check out our blog.

Up next: The Nets and Raptors don’t play again until Friday night, when Game 3 tips off at Barclays Center.