Time For Nets Fans to Step it Up

By Lenn Robbins | @lennrobbins

TORONTO – You've got to give Toronto fans this: Thy sons command a lot of love for the Raptors.

So do Canada's daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, you name it - Toronto loves its Raptors. Heck, all of Canada has taken to these Raptors.

A colleague at the Toronto Star said her boyfriend has jumped on the Raptors' bandwagon. And he lives in Vancouver!

The cheapest tickets for the two playoffs games in Air Canada Centre went for about $400 each and there wasn't an empty seat in the house for the Brooklyn Nets' 94-87 win in Game 1 and the Toronto Raptors' 100-95 win in Game 2 on Tuesday night.

The series is deadlocked at 1-1. Game 3 is Friday night (7:00PM; ESPN2) in Barclays Center and it's time to represent. Toronto did.

Thousands of fans attended a rally prior to Game 1 in which the featured speaker, Raptors GM Masai Ijiri, declared "F Brooklyn."

Having been born and raised in the Borough of Kings, Ijiri's words didn't shock me, didn't offend me.

In fact, I'd like to thank Ijiri for giving Nets fans their rallying cry: "F Brooklyn!"

Toronto coach Dwane Casey gave the Raptors, "Be careful what you wish for," which is catchy. But "F Brooklyn!" is so much more to the point, more encompassing, too.

This could go down with Rangers fans' chant of "Potvin S#$ks!" Thank you, Masai. Thank you.

"We know it's going to be a rowdy environment, like it should be," Kevin Garnett said. "I don't know if you can say 'F Brooklyn' and then come into Brooklyn. So we're about to see what it's like."

And thanks to the Toronto fans, who set the standard for this series. They greeted the Brooklyn Nets' team buses with the warmth of a Yukon Territory winter prior to Game 1.

They jeered. They sneered. They went Ijiri.

They had classy moments, too. Before Games 1 and 2, they stood as one and belted out their melodious national anthem. They were a poor man's Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

They waved their terrible towels and threw Paul Pierce's headband back at the veteran forward after Game 1. They were delirious after their team's win in Game 2.

They popped confetti in Air Canada Centre, as if the Raptors had just won the NBA title, instead of having barely gotten a split at home. Happy fans. Queue up Pharrell.

"That's Canadian love,'' said Nets swingman Alan Anderson, who played for these Raptors. "They love their teams. They're out there supporting them as best as they can.''

It's your time, Brooklyn. It's time to show some Kings County love; time to show that Barclays Center can be every bit the home-court advantage the Raptors enjoy in Air Canada Centre.

We've seen it. The night of March 10, when the Nets edged the Raptors, 101-97, all 17,351 fans were on their feet most of the game.

When Pierce, who scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter of that game went to the line with four seconds left, he was serenaded with a chorus of, "Paul Pierce! Paul Pierce!"

Pierce has made a career of hitting clutch shots, but he's been especially good against Toronto. Pierce scored 9 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter of the Game 1 win.

He converted two three-point plays in the final four minutes of Game 2 before his 3, which would have given the Nets a 93-92 lead with 24 seconds left, was halfway down before popping out.

"I think it's just in the DNA,'' said Pierce. "Everybody doesn't have it. Everybody's not born with it. [You] can't buy it at Costco or Walgreens. It's in the DNA.''

Pierce said he hit his first game-winner when he was in ninth grade, a tip-in at the buzzer of a JV game.

"That's my first one ever,'' said Pierce. "You always remember the first one.

"I felt the drive. I think that that was just the beginning. Once you get a taste of it, you enjoy those moments. It just grew and grew, manifested over the years. You love those moments.''

There could be magical moments Friday night when Game 3 comes to the basketball cathedral on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

Don't think the home court is lost on the Nets. They embraced the raucous crowd in Air Canada Centre.

"It felt like everyone was standing up the whole game,'' said Anderson. "The fans are so loyal.''

True. But I believe there are no smarter, loyal or passionate fans on the planet than New Yorkers. I believe Nets fans will answer the Raptors fans. I'm not alone.

"I'm not worried about the Brooklyn fans,'' said Anderson. "They'll be ready.''

NOTES: Tickets are available to see the Nets when they return to Brooklyn on Friday night. Click here to purchase tickets.

Nets Central

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