Insider offers a breakdown of every playoff series using an expert combination of scouting from Amin Elhassan and advanced metrics from Bradford Doolittle to answer three crucial questions. Also included are predictions from the writers and the classic Log5 formula for determining matchup probabilities.
If before the season you had told us the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors would be hooking up in a first-round series, it wouldn't have been shocking, but you'd have assumed it would be a 3-6 or a 2-7 matchup, with the Nets landing the power seed. Instead, it was the Raptors who won the Atlantic Division and outlasted the Chicago Bulls in the long battle for the 3-seed in the East. The Nets probably think they helped themselves by slipping into the No. 6 spot on the last night of the season and now find themselves matched up with Toronto instead of Chicago, but make no mistake: The Raptors set a franchise record with 48 wins because they're good, and they play better than the sum of their parts.
The teams played each other closely during the season, splitting four games, with each winning once on the other's home floor. Three of the four games were one-possession spine-tinglers that went down to the closing seconds, and the one blowout -- a 16-point Toronto home win on Jan. 11 -- saw the Nets playing without Kevin Garnett or Deron Williams. Along with Chicago, these were two of the East's hottest teams over the last two months, and they appear to be fairly evenly matched. As happens so often in the NBA playoffs, will the outcome of this series be all about matchups? We'll find out starting early Saturday, when the Nets and Raptors get the 2014 postseason started.
Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors
Eastern Conference playoffs