What do the Brooklyn Nets, pillows, dryer lint, cotton candy and bamboo yarn all have in common?
Paul Pierce thinks they're all soft
Shortly after the Nets lost Game 2 of their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, The Truth dropped some cold, hard, unabashed, well, truth.
Indeed, the Raptors had a much easier time scoring in Game 2. They shot 47.4 percent from the floor overall, up from 39.4 percent in Game 1.
Though the Nets did a good job chasing Toronto's marksmen off the three-point line (2-of-16), there wasn't much else to like about their defense. Many of the Raptors' 20 turnovers were the result of sloppy decision-making more than they were staunch defense.
Even so, the Nets had plenty of opportunities to leave the Air Canada Centre with a victory. Pierce received a number of open looks down the stretch—including a corner three that would have given Brooklyn the lead inside two minutes to play—that just didn't go down.
The Truth's late-game mortality came after a sensational Game 1 performance, during which he had nine points and two assists in the fourth quarter. Leading into Game 2, he was left drumming up his clutch gene and dagger-tastic value, per the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy:
Pierce had that confident lean this morning: "(Being clutch) is in my DNA. There's nothing I can do to let it go."— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) April 22, 2014
"Everybody don’t have it," Paul Pierce said about being clutch. "Everybody is not born with it. You can’t buy it at Costco or Walgreens."— Stefan Bondy (@NYDNInterNets) April 22, 2014
Sans any late-game heroics, the Nets were unable to put a choke hold on the Raptors. Stealing one game in Toronto was always the goal, but as Youngmisuk writes, the Nets missed a golden opportunity in Game 2:
Yes, the Nets left Canada with what they came for -- stealing a game and home-court advantage. But the Nets had a chance to choke the air out of the Raptors and seize control of the series.
Not only did the Nets turn this into a series again, they literally stood and watched DeMar DeRozan go through his playoff baptism.
Squandered opportunity—replete with nonexistent fourth-quarter defense—aside, the Nets are still in good shape.
Which team will win Game 3 at Barclays Center?
On Friday, they will host the Raptors at Barclays Center, which they turned into a well-protected fortress where opposing teams go to meet their end during the second half of the regular season. Through their final 18 home games, they lost just twice.
Holding home court would allow the Nets to gain complete control. There is little chance the Raptors stage a comeback if they lose two straight in Brooklyn. But that's a big "If" should the Nets continue executing down the stretch on defense like they did in Game 2.
Successfully dispatching the Raptors demands they play better than pillow-soft, Pierce-despised basketball.