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Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.

NBA playoffs let Nets know to stay focused

Deron Williams of the Nets plays against Terrence

Deron Williams of the Nets plays against Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Toronto on Saturday, April 19, 2014. (Credit: Getty Images / Claus Andersen)

The Nets' players and coaches like watching playoff basketball as much as the next hoops fan, so they are well aware of the first-round nuttiness going on around the NBA, including a number of impressive victories for road teams beyond their own in Game 1 in Toronto.

So they are well aware that the Raptors are capable of splitting in Brooklyn this weekend and regaining the homecourt edge - such as it is - before going back to Toronto next week. They hope to avoid that with a two-game Barclays Center sweep.

"We have have to try to not let that happen to us," Deron Williams said. "It can happen. Teams are ready to play, they can come in and try to beat you on your floor. So we have to be ready. We have to be the aggressor and play our game.’’

Williams said of the early playoff action, "It's been crazy. There have been some great games. There definitely have been some great games to watch.’’

Said Andrei Kirilenko, "Right now there is no one team which is dominating completely. There are a lot of teams that are playing very good basketball, quality basketball. If you take a look every matchup is hard. There is nobody dominating . . . Everybody is fighting. Even Charlotte and Miami – Charlotte you have to give them huge credit.

"It’s very interesting playoff I would say for the fans and for the players as well to watch it and see what happens . . . I would say it’s an indication that this particular season the teams are very equal.’’

Williams said the team's confidence level at home is high.

"I think we’re a lot more comfortable," he said. "We won 15 straight. There definitely is a comfort level at home that we have and built and hopefully we continue that in the playoffs. It’s important to protect home court, especially when you’ve already stolen one. You don’t want to give it back.’’

Williams said the vibe at Barclays has improved since the team arrived in the fall of 2012.

"It’s definitely grown a lot. I think early on last year there were a lot of people that weren’t really fans, they were just there to see the new arena and it was a little tame in there except for certain games like when we played the Knicks or Miami, it’s a different atmosphere," Williams said. "But I think lately it’s been a great atmosphere. They’ve really taken to us and we’ve taken to them. We were winning, which helps, and the crowd has been great.’’

Kirilenko was asked why the Nets play so well at home.

"It’s two parts of the season," he said. "Beginning we didn’t play well home or away and finally we started protecting our home court and playing well. I think that’s one of the keys for a team. When you’re playing good at home you always know when you get back you’ve got it and you have to keep this feeling, that on your home court you’re going to win the game and everybody on your side – rims, fans, your own locker room, all the preparation before the game, all the routine will help you win that game. We kind of got it at the end of the season . . . I think we kind of got that feeling that we’re protecting our home court. We have to keep it for the playoffs.’’

Perhaps the biggest early surprise has been the eighth-seeded Hawks' 2-1 lead over the top-seeded Pacers.

"It’s been a good series," Williams said. "Atlanta has come out and they’re ready to play, it looks like. You hear stuff about all the problems and body language, and you can see it with Indiana. Atlanta doesn’t have those problems right now. It looks like they’re gelling at the right time.’’

Said coach Jason Kidd, "There's a lot of good basketball being played. A lot of great series out there. From players to coaches to fans, there’s a lot of good basketball to watch, so, that’s just basketball at its best."

Tags: jason kidd , andrei kirilenko , deron williams

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