The Toronto Raptors cruised past the Brooklyn Nets, 134-110, in Game 1 of their first-round series in the 2020 NBA playoffs.
Toronto put its foot on the gas as soon as the game got underway. The Raptors led 37-20 after the first quarter and didn't look back. They shot 47.1 percent from the floor and 22-of-44 from beyond the arc as a team, setting a franchise record in the process.
The Nets outscored Toronto 35-22 in the third quarter to build some drama early in the second half. After getting to within eight points, Brooklyn ran out of steam, as evidenced by the lopsided final score.
Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors: 3-14 FG, 16 points, seven rounds, six assists, one block
Pascal Siakam, PF, Raptors: 4-13 FG, 18 points, 11 rebounds, one assist
Serge Ibaka, C, Raptors: 8-14 FG, 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one block
Fred VanVleet, SG, Raptors: 11-15 FG, 8-10 3P, 30 points, two rebounds, 11 assists, two steals, one block
Caris LeVert, SG, Nets: 5-14 FG, 15 points, seven rebounds, 15 assists, one steal
Collective Strength on Display for Raptors
The Raptors aren't as good as they were last season because no team can lose a player as talented as Kawhi Leonard and not take a step backward. Danny Green's departure can't be overlooked, either.
However, Monday's win illustrated how Toronto remains a cohesive squad even without Leonard and Green in the rotation. Seven players scored in double figures.
Based on his Game 1 output, Fred VanVleet might be on his way toward another memorable postseason.
Serge Ibaka also feasted on a Nets frontcourt that sorely needed DeAndre Jordan to spell Jarrett Allen.
It remains to be seen how the Raptors will fare in a seven-game series against an opponent that boasts an elite superstar, with the Milwaukee Bucks the most obvious Eastern Conference foe to meet that criterion.
Fans probably grew slightly uneasy as the third quarter unfolded. That feeling then subsided as the Raptors reasserted control.
Strength in depth is enough to put the Nets away, and Toronto might have seen the best shot Brooklyn could deliver this round. In the same vein, Pascal Siakam is bound to improve after a performance that isn't necessarily reflected in his impressive scoring and rebounding numbers.
Luwawu-Cabarrot, LeVert Not Enough for Brooklyn
At one point in the second quarter, 33 points separated the Raptors and Nets, and Brooklyn headed into the locker room staring at a 22-point halftime deficit.
The Nets could've packed it in in the second half and turned their focus toward Game 2. Instead, they slowly chipped away at Toronto's lead and made it a nine-point game, 88-79, with a little over three minutes left in the third quarter.
Through his scoring and playmaking, Caris LeVert played a big role in Brooklyn's comeback.
Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had the hot hand off the bench, too, leading the Nets in scoring with 26 points.
Brooklyn is set to undergo two big changes ahead of the 2020-21 season. The team needs to remove the interim tag from head coach Jacque Vaughn or hire a permanent replacement, while a healthy Kevin Durant will join the rotation. The Nets will presumably have the services of Kyrie Irving for more than 20 games, as well.
It's not as simple as plugging in Durant and a new coach and expecting the pieces to fit together seamlessly. But the Nets' effort in the second half shows how strong their foundation is going forward.
The Raptors and Nets will return to the court Wednesday for Game 2. The tip is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET