Nets bracing for hostilities

MIKE GANTER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:22 PM ET

The New Jersey Nets won't be in Toronto very long, but they are expecting an un-Canadian welcome.

Nets head coach Lawrence Frank gave his club the day off yesterday following a huge season-ending win over the Chicago Bulls that moved the Nets into sixth place in the Eastern Conference and set up a first-round date with the Raptors.

Frank did meet with the New Jersey media yesterday and, as was the case in the Toronto, a lot of the conversation revolved around Vince Carter and the expected reception that awaits the one-time fan favourite here.

"The players are well aware of the type of environment it's going to be. And yet, at the same time in a playoff setting, there's always going to be a hostile environment," Frank said. "This is a little different setting, but it's very important for all of us -- coaches, players, everyone involved -- to stay in character. Vince has played at a very, very high level.

"Kudos to him for winning Eastern Conference player of the month. And it's going to be important that everyone stays in character, regardless of the surroundings. Now, that is easier said than done and that is part of the mental focus and preparation that it's going to take -- not just for Vince, but for all of us."

The Nets arrive in Toronto mid-afternoon today but will practise in New Jersey before they leave. They'll also take advantage of the early start time for the series opener (12:30 tomorrow) and return home between Game 1 and Game 2 which goes Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre at 7 p.m.

"If it was a night game, we would have stayed up there," he said.

NOT BUYING IT

It was suggested to Frank that all the attention on Carter might be a benefit for his teammates taking pressure off of them. He wasn't buying that.

"Pressure, many times, is self-induced, or pressure many times is the result of a lack of preparation," he said. "Playoff basketball, normally you're talking about an unbelievable attention to detail, valuing each and every possession and the ability to execute during times of duress. I think what's more important is their homecourt advantage and we're going to have to find a way to win at least one game on the road."

At Toronto's practice yesterday, Chris Bosh was asked which Nets he felt the Raps had to stop in order to be successful. Without hesitation he named Carter and Jason Kidd. Frank agrees.

"With Jason, you can argue that this is, if not his best, definitely one of his best seasons," Frank said. "His consistency the whole year has been great. I think Vince has found another gear in his game.

"Those guys, what makes them do special, is they talk about great players make other players better, well they do. That's what they do. They are our all-stars."

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VINCE'S TORONTO RETURNS

DATE RESULT MIN REB AST PTS

April 15, 2005 W 101-90 43 9 4 39

Nov. 4, 2005 W 102-92 40 7 6 20

Jan. 8, 2006 W 105-104 45 10 3 42

Dec. 15. 2006 L 90-78 35 6 2 12

Feb. 14, 2007 L 120-109 38 6 10 17


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