Raptors drop expletive and game to Nets in playoff opener

Sat Apr 19, 2014 6:38pm EDT
 
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Sparked by a stinging expletive the NBA playoffs got off to an explosive start as the Brooklyn Nets landed the first blow in a suddenly bitter Eastern Conference first round match-up with a 94-87 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Out of the playoffs since 2008, Toronto's return to the postseason was both eventful and controversial, upping the ante in the best-of-seven series.

With A list celebrities, including rappers Drake, Jay-Z and Beyonce, occupying courtside seats, an embarrassing technical malfunction and a jaw-dropping expletive delivered by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to thousands of frenzied supporters at a pre-game pep rally, the first game of the NBA postseason offered a little bit over everything.

A super-charged atmosphere greeted players and fans after allegations that the experienced Nets had tanked their final few regular season games to get a preferred match-up with the youthful Raptors rather than face the Chicago Bulls.

Despite topping the Atlantic Division and setting a franchise record with 48 victories, the Raptors have had a harder time winning respect than games. Meanwhile the Nets dropped four of their last five contests, including a 29-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their season finale, to cement a Toronto match-up.

The Nets denied any suggestion of subterfuge but Ujiri made his position crystal clear, shouting "Fuck Brooklyn!" at a fan rally outside Air Canada Center prior to the start of Game One.

"You know how I feel, I don't like them, I apologise," Ujiri, told a hastily arranged news conference at the half, in a half-hearted attempt to defuse the controversy. "I apologise it was the wrong choice of words out there.

"I apologise to the kids out there and the Brooklyn guys, nothing against them, I was just trying to get our fans going."   Continued...

 
Apr 19, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez (21) hits a three-pointer against the Brooklyn Nets in game one during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. The Nets beat the Raptors 94-87. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports