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Armstrong: Five thoughts on the first two Raptors-Nets games

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Jack Armstrong
4/23/2014 12:44:14 PM
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FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS ON RAPTORS/NETS-GAME 2

1. MATCHUPS: It's really fun to watch both head coaches move around the chess pieces and create situations where they get their better players in scenarios where they have the supposed upper hand. It's fascinating stuff to key in on and it's the essence of NBA hoops. Been impressed with both coaching staffs' preparation and attention to detail. Plays out of timeouts from both sides have been well scripted and the amount of details flying around in both huddles is evident. As a former coach, I really enjoy and respect this aspect of these games.

2. LANDRY FIELDS: Totally agree with this move and I said it the other day. He's the most capable defender that they have in the Joe Johnson matchup due to his size, strength, athleticism, smarts and overall range. He's a guy you can play for a possession or two at the four-spot as well to match Paul Pierce. He made a big impact on Tuesday night in spite of not scoring. I've said it many times before - yes, he has limitations but he's a 'winning player' that does the little things that teams must have to get over the hump. A true pro just like so many of the guys on both of these teams.

3. TURNOVERS: Toronto has 40 in just two games - at home! To be tied 1-1 in the series after that you've got to feel really fortunate. You do that on the road and this series will be over quick. Nets defence in the half court has been sensational. Multiple help and amazing communication and coverages. Raptors must realize that the Nets are incredibly help-conscious and play on that and look to create their help and then get rid of the ball quick to the next guy and keep them on the run and prevent them 'loading up' on the guy with the ball. Must be a whole lot tougher with the ball and play through contact. Not going to get the whistle-deal with it and be that much better. It can be done. Move the ball side-top-side and make the defence cover. Better spacing, screening, ball and player movement and inside-out play are imperative.

4. BENCH USAGE: Jason Kidd goes with 11 guys and Dwane Casey with eight. Different styles. Considering that both teams didn't play from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday night and you would think you would load up your starters' minutes, yet Jason Kidd wants his team 'all in' on every possession defensively so no plays off. No right or wrong answer here, just interesting to watch the points of emphasis on both sides play out.

5. CROWDS (both inside and outside ACC): Wow! My goodness, I have goose bumps just typing this. I'm so proud of the fans and feel so happy for them that they're getting to experience this. Blown away by the enthusiasm and atmosphere. Toronto is making a major statement that it's a major league hoops town and that this country is embracing this sport more and more each day. The singing of the Canadian national anthem by the fans is awesome - it chokes me up. Been working as a Raptors broadcaster for the past 16 years and have seen all of the good and all of the not-so-good. Your loyalty to the Raptors and the growth of the sport are truly appreciated. I'm so fortunate to be a part of it. This has been remarkable to watch develop over the years. Enjoy - you deserve it.

Valanciunas and Garnett (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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