Game 5 was up and down, with the Raptors only leading 28-25 after the first quarter, but after an offensive explosion in the second, they took a 62-44 lead into halftime.
The third quarter provided much of the same Raptors domination, but the fourth quarter was a different story. The veteran Nets squad went on a 32-10 run in the final period, taking down a 26-point Raptors lead, making it quite a thriller down the stretch.
Let’s look at the biggest things to takeaway from Wednesday night’s game.
Kyle Lowry is the Man
Simply put, Kyle Lowry is the man. He poured in 36 points and undoubtedly carried the Raptors to the win on Wednesday night.
Despite being hampered by a knee injury sustained in Game 3, Lowry had his best game of the series and made a number of huge plays. Besides draining a 31-footer to end the first half, Lowry saved his biggest moments for the final stretch of the game.
With the game tied at 106 with just over a minute remaining, Lowry hit an extremely difficult, fadeaway three-pointer over Deron Williams and Andray Blatche.
Then, just moments later, with Toronto up 109-108, Lowry drove to the basket, crossed over Williams and scored a tough basket in the lane to put the score to 111-108.
This video is just too good not to show. Here’s Lowry putting D-Will on skates.
Greivis Vasquez Continues to be Key X-Factor
Although Greivis Vasquez can be incredibly frustrating at times; with his questionable decision making and turnover-prone style of play, there’s no questioning the impact he has had on Toronto’s playoff run thus far.
He has been crucial to every win for the Raptors so far in this series. With 2:45 left in Game 5 on Wednesday night and the Raptors wavering and only up by two points, Vasquez hit a key three-pointer to put them up 106-101 and reinsert life back into the team and the crowd.
He has improved in every major stat category in these playoffs compared to the regular season. In the five games so far against Brooklyn, he’s averaging 12 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.
If he can continue this level of play, the Raptors will be extremely confident in their chances of winning the series.
Toronto Still Struggling to Defend Joe Johnson
Besides Game 4, when Joe Johnson was held to only seven points, the Raptors have struggled mightily in trying to defend the All-Star shooting guard. DeMar DeRozan’s individual defense against him on Wednesday night was especially lackluster in giving up a nice chunk of Johnson’s 30 points.
Johnson had a very good regular season, but his numbers during this series are up even higher and he's averaging close to seven points better per game.
He was practically the only reason the Nets weren’t completely blown away before the fourth quarter started, as he scored 18 of Brooklyn’s 25 third quarter points.
In order for Toronto to win Game 6 and clinch the series in Brooklyn, they need to figure out a way to hold Johnson in check, as he is sure to be extra motivated with his team being on the ropes of elimination.
Overwhelming Support of Toronto Fans
One of the biggest advantages for the Raptors has been their home court advantage at the Air Canada Centre thanks to the wild support of the fans.
With a capacity crowd of 19,800 people chanting “Broo-klyn,” mocking the Nets’ own home chant, the official Brooklyn Nets’ twitter account took notice and even called out its fans.
Despite the rain and cold temperatures, there were also nearly 4,500 Raptors fans packed in Maple Leaf Square watching the game outside.
Of course, a Raptors home playoff game wouldn’t be complete without a little Drake news and this time it was quite comical. Going off of the rapper’s now famous lint rolling exhibition, the Raptors handed out 1,200 Drake/OVO lint rollers to fans sitting in the “416 Zone,” having a little fun with the trend.
Along with Drake, rapper 50 Cent was in attendance, as well as Toronto FC’s Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Julio Cesar and former Raptors Morris Peterson and Jerome Williams. It is clear that the support for the Raptors has never been stronger.
Hey, apparently even fans of Toronto's other sports teams are showing their support.
The Northern Uprising Going Strong
The Toronto Raptors’ #WeTheNorth motto and slogan is still going strong and providing a sense of pride and hope for the team and all of its fans.
Just watch this awesome video for a little extra motivation heading into Game 6 in Brooklyn.