Masai Ujiri made his first trip to Brooklyn since his infamous remarks about the borough before Game 1 at a fan rally in Toronto. “F*ck Brooklyn,” Ujiri said. (Some of you might not have known exactly what Ujiri said. Now you know.) Sitting courtside at Barclays Center before Game 3, Ujiri spoke with SheridanHoops about the incident and the hostile environment the Raptors would face in Brooklyn going forward. “It wasn’t about Brooklyn, honestly,” Ujiri told SheridanHoops. “I apologized to Brooklyn, I apologized to the team and it wasn’t about the borough or anything. For me, it’s competing, you know? I tried to get our fans, our following and us believing in ourselves.” “Every playoff environment is going to be hostile, is going to be tough to play in,” Ujiri added. “If we’re going to grow as a team, we need to play in this kind of situation.” Toronto’s young and inexperienced core failed its first playoff test on the road, falling to the Nets 102-98 at Barclays Center on Friday night. When leading 2-1, the Nets have won six consecutive playoff series and are 7-1 all-time in such situations. Fans at the arena were predominantly respectful during the game, chanting “USA” and “Brooklyn.” Beforehand, Jason Kidd said Ujiri’s comments weren’t bulletin board material. “As coaches or players, we just focus on the game,” Kidd said. “That’s between the fans and the media to have a story or talk about. But for the players, it’s about basketball and being able to execute on both ends offensively and defensively.” While speculation of Brooklyn’s angst towards Ujiri prior to Game 3 was overhyped in retrospect, the keys to Brooklyn’s success against Toronto remain the same – a heavy dosage of Joe Johnson posting up on the wing and Deron Williams’ return to “D-Will” form. “Those two are playing extremely well, they’re very aggressive,” Kidd said. “Joe is causing a lot of problems. They’re looking to double-team and trap him when he has the ball and his teammates are stepping up. Deron is one of those guys.” Through the first three games of the series, Johnson is averaging 23.7 points per game while shooting the leather off the basketball from the field (.605) and perfectly from the foul line (16-16). Williams has averaged 20.3 points per game. In the two victories, both have stepped up their games. Johnson is averaging 26.5 points per game while shooting an even higher percentage (.633) from the field. Williams is averaging 23 points per game while shooting a respectable percentage from the field (.441).
Brooklyn’s Backcourt Spoils Masai Ujiri’s Trip to Brooklyn
Sheridan Hoops | Apr 26