Richard Jefferson & The New Jersey Nets Finish The Toronto Raptors
There will be no seventh game. The New Jersey Nets, behind two big plays from Richard Jefferson, took game six, ending the Toronto Raptors’ season …. We’ve got the wrap-up and breakdown … What was the difference in the series? … And how good are New Jersey’s big three? … Click here for all that and much, much more….
What Happened: made sure the would not live to play game seven.
Jefferson’s spinning drive clinched a 98-97 victory for the over the struggling Toronto Raptors on Friday evening at Continental Airlines Arena.
With the win, the Nets eliminated the Raptors in game six of their best of seven playoff series.
Jefferson made the game’s two key plays. First, with eight seconds left, he drove to the basket and spun away from the Toronto defense to hit the game winning shot. Then, on the defensive end, he preserved the win by picking off Jose Calderon’s pass as time expired.
Jefferson finished with 24 points and five rebounds, while added 21 points to go with five rebounds for the Nets.
had an outstanding all-round game. He tallied 18 points, 15 assists, and eight rebounds. Kidd averaged a triple-double for the series.
snapped his playoff slump to lead the Raptors, dropping 23 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists. Toronto’s two injured point guards, and , had big games. Calderon scored 14 points and added six assists, while Ford, who came off the bench because of a neck injury, chipped in with 19 points.
The Raptors were favored to win the series. Despite the disappointing loss, Toronto made the post season for the first time in five years, winning the Atlantic Division Title with an impressive 47-35 record.
The Nets will face the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Their series begins on Sunday in Cleveland.
Reaction of New Jersey forward Richard Jefferson on the win:
"We’re just a confident group. I wouldn’t say that we felt we’re as good as anybody, we just feel that if we’re healthy, we can compete with anyone. That’s not saying we can beat anyone, I said we can compete with anyone. That means if we do the things that we need to do, if we execute the way we execute and stay healthy, our record shows where we are and where our place is.” (NBA.com)
Reaction of New Jersey guard Jason Kidd on the final play being drawn-up for Jefferson:
"I think the play Coach called, that’s the beauty of this team,” Kidd said. We don’t care who scores or who gets the last play. I thought that was a great call for Coach to go to R.J. to put pressure on the defense and R.J. made a heck of a shot.” (ESPN)
Reaction of Toronto forward Chris Bosh on Richard Jefferson’s end-of-game steal:
“We executed the play we wanted. Richard Jefferson made a super athletic play. If that ball gets over him, we probably win the game.” (ESPN)
My Take: Experience was the difference in this series. New Jersey had been to the playoffs before. Toronto lacked playoff experience and struggled with the tempo of the NBA’s second season. By the time the Raptors adjusted, they were facing an insurmountable 3-1 hole. Give them credit. They never quit.
The Nets aren’t your typical sixth seed. Everybody’s familiar with the big three: Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson, and Jason Kidd. But this squad’s also getting outstanding contributions from their supporting players. Mikki Moore’s holding down the middle with his length and athleticism, while Bostjan Nachbar spreads the floor with his outside shot.
New Jersey’s peaking at exactly the right time and can compete with anybody in the Eastern Conference.
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