NEW YORK -- Andray Blatche didn’t just make one guarantee on Friday.
He made two.
On Friday morning, Blatche guaranteed the Brooklyn Nets would beat the Toronto Raptors to force a decisive Game 7. And that’s exactly what Brooklyn did on Friday night, topping Toronto 97-83 at Barclays Center.
After the game, Blatche was asked to make another guarantee -- and that’s exactly what he did.
“Yeah. Yeah. We guarantee it. We’re gonna go there, take care of business and go to Miami,” Blatche said confidently.
Game 7 is Sunday at Air Canada Centre.
With its back against the wall, the most expensive team in league history staved off elimination, playing aggressive basketball from start to finish.
“There was no way in hell that they were going to come in here and get a win today,” Kevin Garnett said. “It was just desperate [our approach] and now we get to go up there and have the same kind of mindset and a very, very voracious and passionate atmosphere.”
The Nets are 0-2 in Game 7s in their franchise’s NBA history. They were ousted by the Chicago Bulls in seven games last season.
But as Deron Williams said, Brooklyn was a different team then. The Nets lacked an identity then and failed to play with heart and passion.
In the offseason, Nets GM Billy King changed that by bringing in future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Garnett in a blockbuster trade. Pierce and Garnett have so much experience in games like this, while Williams and Joe Johnson (2-for-14 against the Bulls) will both be seeking redemption. Jason Kidd will be coaching in his first Game 7.
A lot is on the line in this game, for this season and the future.
“I’ve believed in these guys since October,” Kidd said. “I told them that from Day 1. Again, I said it before the game, there’s no pressure, it’s just a challenge. And we enjoy as professional athletes the challenge of trying to do something that people don’t believe we can do. And tonight those guys believed that they could win, and now we gotta find a way to win Game 7.”
Blatche, who had a strong game, was glad to make up for his late-game miscue in Game 5, when he threw an errant pass over Williams’ head in the closing seconds.
“It was definitely on my mind. I made a terrible mistake and got criticized for it, and it kinda pissed me off,” Blatche, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds, said afterward.
The Nets enjoyed a commanding lead throughout. And when Raptors did eventually get within 10 in the fourth quarter, Garnett was there to answer, hitting some big buckets down the stretch.
“We are at home. Brooklyn. Stamping that. Can’t come in here and get a win,” Garnett said. “Not when it’s like this. It was all on the line and that is what we did. I had to go into an bag of vintage tricks and I went into it and it worked for me. Same thing in Game 7. Stay aggressive.”
Pierce relishes these types of moments.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “This is what the NBA is all about, these pressure-type moments. These are the types of games that elevate good players to great players. And we have so many of them coming up this weekend, it’s an exciting time. We’re gonna enjoy it. We’re going into a hostile environment, win or go home. This is the type of situation that I love, that I love to be in and I love our chances.”
With their experience and leadership, it’s hard not to.