The Brooklyn Nets will enter their first-round series with the Toronto Raptors in the 2020 NBA Playoffs as heavy underdogs, but they're still confident that they can push the defending champions.
"We know they're a really good team," Nets guard Caris LeVert said after clinching the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. "Obviously they're playing good basketball right now, they move the ball really well, they're a great defensive team as well. But for us, we feel like it's about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defence, if we're locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we're gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in."
The Raptors and Nets faced each other four times during the regular season. The Raptors took three of those games, Brooklyn's lone win being the one that snapped Toronto's franchise-best winning streak ahead of All-Star Weekend.
However, the Nets team the Raptors faced in the regular season is not the one they'll face in the playoffs.
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In addition to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, both of whom have been ruled out for the rest of the season, the Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince, DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler in Orlando. Irving and Dinwiddie were the team's two leading scorers prior to the season restart, Jordan was its leading rebounder and Prince and Chandler were two of its best perimeter defenders.
Despite not having them, the Nets have been one of the surprise teams in the bubble. They are 4-2 through their first six games with victories coming against the Milwaukee Bucks and the LA Clippers. Caris LeVert is averaging team-highs of 22.6 points and 6.2 assists while Harris is shooting a scorching 57.6 percent from 3-point and Jarrett Allen is holding down the centre position to the tune of 16.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
Led by those three, the Nets have the seventh-best offence among the teams in Orlando, trailing only the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs.
MORE: Breaking down the new-look Nets roster
"There's no home court advantage," Nets guard Tyler Johnson said about the playoffs, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News. "You're playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance. For us, it's continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we're capable of beating anybody, and we showed it."
The Nets still have two more seeding games remaining before the playoffs, as do the Raptors.
The full schedule for the 2020 NBA Playoffs has not yet been released, but games will begin on Monday, Aug. 17.
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