The experts seem to be in love with the thought that the New Jersey Nets will win this series with the Raptors and to that I think they are nuts and here’s why: Chris Bosh is going to destroy the Nets super-soft interior defense and the Nets don’t have a bench, while the Raptors have a pretty good one. Here’s a breakdown position by position for this series:
Point Guard: Their is no doubt that Jason Kidd is a better basketball player than T.J. Ford, but the gap isn’t as big as most people think. Kidd averaged 13.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game while Ford averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 assists and 7.9 assists. Kidd will likely try to sneak inside some and post up Ford on offense, while Ford will try to keep him outside. Ford is very fast and that could pose problems for the Nets’ defense if he gets by Kidd on the drive. EDGE: NETS
Shooting Guard: Vince Carter is one of the best players in the NBA and he will pose serious problems for the Raptors defense. Anthony Parker of the Raptors is a solid player, but he will be really tested on defense. Carter averaged 25.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game this season while Parker averaged 12.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists. You just know that Vince Carter is going to try to destroy his old team and he’s sure to get abused by the Toronto crowd, but I think he will play well. Parker needs to make Carter work on defense so he can’t be scared to put up a lot of shots. EDGE: NETS
SMALL FORWARD: Richard Jefferson is an important part of the Nets “Triplets” and he’s really good at running the floor on the fastbreak. Joey Graham will be starting against him and he didn’t play much during the season, but his most important job will be playing defense. Jefferson has averaged 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game this season. If he’s not sharp, the Nets can’t win. Graham averaged 6.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game this season. EDGE: NETS
POWER FORWARD: Chris Bosh is a fantastic basketball player and he will do whatever he wants to against the soft defense of the Nets. He averaged 22.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this season. The NBA Playoffs is a place where stars shine and we haven’t seen the best of Chris Bosh yet and it’s coming in this series as he will average 25-30 points per game and 12-15 rebounds per game in this series. Veteran Mikki Moore has been a nice story so far this season as he averaged 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game. He is a decent basketball player, but he doesn’t make anyone on the Raptors lose any sleep worrying about how to defend him. EDGE: GIGANTIC FOR THE RAPTORS
CENTER: Rasho Nesterovic vs. Jason Collins. Excuse me if I’m not getting very excited about this matchup. Nesterovic has the edge size wise so he might be able to have some success against the Raptors. He only averaged 6.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game. Those numbers look pretty poor until you look at what Jason Collins did this season. Collins averaged 2.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.6 assists per game. EDGE: RAPTORS
BENCH: The Raptors bench was very productive this season and they will be against the Nets. Jose Calderon (8.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists) will team with T.J. Ford to run Jason Kidd into the ground unless Marcus Williams of the Nets can play good enough to give Kidd a break once in a while. Williams averaged 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. The Nets cut Williams’ minutes as the season went on because of his erratic play. The Nets will likely let Bostjan Nachbar play alot in this series as they will go small a lot in this series. He averaged 9.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game this season. He’s a really good shooter so the Raptors will need to be aware of where he is on the court at all times. Rookie Andrea Bargnani (11.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 0.8 assists) and Morris Peterson (8.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists) will help the Raptors with their outside shooting in this series. The Raptors’ Juan Dixon also could be a key as he’s played really well since coming over from the Trailblazers in a trade. He averaged 11.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game for the Raptors. He’ll provide instant offense off of the bench. The Nets must have Josh Boone (4.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.2 assists) or Cliff Robinson (4.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists) step up and give them good minutes off of the bench. EDGE: RAPTORS
PREDICTION: The Nets will win a game early in this series and everyone will be talking upset, but, in the end the Raptors will win this series in 6 games because they have home court advantage and a much deeper basketball team.