Toronto Shooting Lights Out

The Nets-Raptors playoff series has spotlighted a trio of players who have combined to shoot nearly 50 percent from the field and average 61 points over the first two games.

Unfortunately for New Jersey, their names are Chris Bosh, T.J. Ford and Anthony Parker and not Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.

Oddsmakers have made New Jersey -4.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 192 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on New Jersey -4.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

So far in the first-round matchup, the Toronto players have shot 49 percent (42-for-86) compared to 34 percent (36-for-106) for their more-celebrated counterparts.

With the series tied at one game apiece, the Nets' Big Three will try to break out of their mini-slump Friday in Game 3, a prospect that could be clouded by Kidd's strained left knee.

Kidd missed practice Thursday and will be a gametime decision. He hurt himself early in Game 2 while attempting to draw an offensive foul, but remained in the game and finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds in New Jersey's 89-83 loss.

``He just bumped it and we just wanted to take precautions,'' coach Lawrence Frank said.

Carter, who averaged 25 points to lead the Nets during the regular season - and took more than 700 more shots than anyone else on the team - has struggled most noticeably in the first two games, averaging 17.5 points and shooting a dismal 30 percent.

``We're putting pressure on his shots, we're not just giving him wide-open looks,'' Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said. ``There's a crowd wherever he goes, and that's how it's got to be with all three of those guys, not just Vince but with Jason and Jefferson.''

Joey Graham had guarded Carter in Game 1, but Mitchell put Parker on him late in Game 2. Though the Nets star missed six of eight shots in the fourth quarter, he stopped short of giving Parker too much credit after watching the game films.

``I liked the shots I was getting, though I think I could have been more aggressive on a lot of plays,'' Carter said. ``I'm trying to utilize everybody and not make stupid plays to hurt us. When guys are open, they know I'll pass it to them. But coach (Frank) was saying some of those times, be more aggressive, be who you are, stay in character.''

On the defensive end, the Raptors scored on 10 of their final 12 possessions to come from behind for the win. It was reminiscent of the Nets' second-round playoff loss to Miami a year ago when the Heat significantly outplayed New Jersey in the final minutes of each of their final three wins in the series.

``Let's not go crazy - it's two games,'' Frank said Thursday. ``You have to work that much harder in the playoffs to get the same things you were getting during the regular season. There's a period of adjustment, and over the course of time we're going to find our way. The good news is that with the exception of that fourth quarter Tuesday, defensively we've been pretty good.''

Despite regaining the homecourt advantage by splitting the first two games in Toronto, New Jersey should be wary of the Raptors, whose win Tuesday was the franchise's first in the playoffs in five years. They are epitomized by Parker, who bounced around the NBA, CBA, Europe and Israel for nine seasons before finding a niche in Toronto.

``We have a lot of people on this team that people gave up on or didn't believe in,'' Ford said. ``Most of the team has been traded here. What does that tell you? There's a lot of people on this team that have something to prove.''

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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