Czar’s Playoff Preview

 Copyright 2013 NBAE - Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images

With home-court advantage back in their hands, the Raptors return to Air Canada Centre to host pivotal Game 5 after tying up the series with a road win over the Nets on Sunday.

A number of interesting storylines have swirled above this Round 1 series. Did Brooklyn intentionally slip to the 6 seed in order to duck a first-round matchup with the Chicago Bulls?

How would the dynamic of a super-veteran team taking on a playoff-inexperienced bunch come into play?

Would Toronto’s Rodney Dangerfield act of ‘No Respect’ solidify their team’s psyche, or would their over-analysis and second guessing of the officiating backfire?

The series thus far has hinged on two important facets. First, PG Deron Williams averaged 23.5 ppg in Brooklyn’s two W’s and put up just 12.5 ppg in their two losses.

The Nets need their 9th-year, 3X All-Star PG to produce in order to win. When Williams is on at the offensive end, Brooklyn’s shooters get spacing, and their bigs and wings have more room to operate via cuts and post-ups.

Second, the Raptors’ propensity to turn the ball over combined with Brooklyn’s long-armed defense and ability to make steals has been a momentum killer for coach Dwane Casey’s squad.

However, in Sunday night’s 48 in Brooklyn, the Raptors took care of the rock, committing only 10 turnovers while totaling 9 steals in their 87-79 Game 4 victory. On the other hand, the Nets turned it over 16 times with only 6 total steals.

Since scoring only 14 points in Game 1, fifth-year 2-guard DeMar Derozan, a 2014 All-Star reserve, has gone for 30, 30 and 24 in the last three contests.

Look for coach Jason Kidd to stress getting the ball into Joe Johnson’s hands early in tonight’s game. On Sunday, the 7X All-Star was held to 7 points on 2-7 shooting. In Brooklyn’s Game 3 win, the thirteenth-year veteran had 29 points on an efficient 11-17 from the field including 3 of 4 from deep.

Tune in to YES this evening at 7:30 PM ET to see who will take control of this seesaw series with a critical Game 5 win!

Czar’s Playoff Preview


Czar’s End of Year Awards

WEB-Most Improved-22APR2014

From the Booth


Mike and Ian talk about the Nets’ playoff matchup with the Raptors and give a review of the regular season.

Czar’s Playoff Preview


Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images)


I’m not sure there’s been a conference number one seed that’s slipped so far in hoopheads’ expectations as this Pacers team. After stumbling to the finish line, many fear their slump will continue into the postseason. But do the 38-44 Hawks have enough talent to best this Indiana roster even if the Pacers play subpar basketball?



The Bobcats finished with the second-best record in franchise history. But they haven’t beat the three-peat seeking Heat since LeBron moved to Miami. Will Charlotte’s post-monster Al Jefferson overmatch Miami’s bigs down low and force them to alter their lock-down defense? Will D. Wade’s knees hold up in his fourth run at the Finals with the new Big 3?


Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images#6 BROOKLYN NETS VS. #3 TORONTO RAPTORS

Do the young and playoff-inexperienced Toronto squad have the savvy to upend the veteran Brooklyn side? Has first-year coach Jason Kidd’s team gelled enough to make a deep run in the Eastern Conference? This first-round series could boil down to the backcourt battle between Williams/Livingston vs. DeRozan/Lowry.



The upstart Wizards team is looking to win their first playoff series in 9 years. After losing Derrick Rose (again) for the year and trading away the versatile Luol Deng, can coach Thibodeau’s defensive schemes slow down the explosive backcourt of Wall and Beal?


 Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images-19APR2014WESTERN CONFERENCE ROUND 1



Is there any fathomable scenario in which Dirk & friends take down this machine-like, multi-style Spurs team? Outside of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, who in the Black & Silver will step up big for coach Pop this postseason?



Soon-to-be named 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant will try to avenge last year’s 4-1 playoff loss to the Griz. Can Memphis’ experienced and rugged core group slow down PG Westbrook and thus the Thunder offense?


Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images#6 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS. #3 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

The league’s most lethal shooter aka Steph Curry will try to bomb the Warriors past their in-state rivals. Will MVP-candidate Black Griffin silence all the haters on the Dubs?



This will be a matchup of dynamic duos: Harden and Howard vs. Lillard and Aldridge. Which team will perform better at both ends of the court? Will Linsanity get a chance to shine or will Patrick Beverly play the majority of minutes at the 1-guard?