The Toronto Raptors swept the Brooklyn Nets with a win in Game 4.
The Raptors’ franchise playoff-record 150 points were fueled by a historically high-scoring night from the second unit, with Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka leading the charge. Despite losing Kyle Lowry for the game due to an ankle injury in the first quarter, Toronto didn’t lose its stride, exploding for a 39-19 advantage in the third quarter that turned a nine-point halftime lead into an insurmountable 29-point advantage.
The Nets’ season is now over despite the heroic efforts of Caris LeVert, interim coach Jacque Vaughn and the rest of this plucky bunch that were surprisingly competitive in Orlando until the playoffs began.
Toronto, meanwhile, advances to face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
What else did you miss in Game 4 between the Raptors and Nets?
Turning point: Kyle Lowry’s injury
This certainly wasn’t the turning point of the game, which was a lopsided affair for most of the second half. But it could be a significant turning point in the Raptors’ postseason run if the left ankle injury that sent Lowry limping to the locker room turns out to be anything serious.
The Raptors’ starting point guard left Game 4 in the first quarter after turning his ankle on a drive where he stepped on Chris Chiozza’s foot. He tried to play on it after a timeout, but was noticeably hobbled. He fouled intentionally to sub himself out and did not return after that.
The good news for Toronto is that with this sweep, Lowry may have some extra time to recuperate. The conference semifinals are scheduled to begin on Aug. 31, which is still a full eight days away. If the NBA doesn’t move that date up now that the Raptors and Celtics are locked in as the 2-3 matchup in the conference semis, hopefully Lowry will be 100 percent again by then.
Unsung hero: Caris LeVert
The Nets were largely uncompetitive in this do-or-die Game 4, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on Caris LeVert’s part. Brooklyn’s best player couldn’t carry his team to a victory in this series, but he kept them in Game 4 through the first two quarters thanks to 26 first-half points.
Toronto opened the floodgates in the third quarter, but LeVert did everything in his power to keep the Nets in the game, finishing his night with a game-high 35 points, six assists and six rebounds. He shot a tidy 11-for-23 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point range and 7-for-10 from the foul line.
It’s a disappointing finish for Brooklyn, especially after shocking the bubble with a 5-3 record during the eight seeding games despite not having Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and several other prominent players on the floor. But the Nets should definitely feel encouraged by what they’ve seen out of LeVert on both ends of the floor in Orlando, because he’ll be an integral cog in Brooklyn next season when this team is at full strength again.
MVP: The Raptors’ bench mob
You could also call this one “the Raptors’ total and complete bench dominance,” since Toronto’s second unit outscored Brooklyn’s bench by a whopping 100-45 margin. Not a misprint.
Norman Powell was the driving force behind that explosion, finishing with a team-high 29 points in just 24 minutes off the bench. The real “Playoff P” shot 9-for-14 from the field, made five of his nine attempts from beyond the arc and dazzled with a pair of monster dunks to get himself trending.
Serge Ibaka was no slouch either, racking up 27 points and 15 rebounds on a nearly perfect 12-of-14 shooting. Terence Davis chipped in 14 points, while Matt Thomas added 12. All in all, every single one of the eight players Nick Nurse gave minutes to off the bench came in and scored, helping keep that lead out of reach and build on it in garbage time.