The streak has broken!
After three consecutive wins in ultimately meaningless preseason fashion, the Brooklyn Nets finally fell apart in ultimately meaningless preseason fashion, losing 115-85 to the Boston Celtics in Brooklyn. The Nets fell behind 9-0 in the first 76 seconds and never recovered, trailing by double digits for the last 32 minutes of the game. I'm not sure what the team's defensive rating was by Avery's standards, but by regular ones, the Nets allowed those 115 points on only 94 possessions.
It was as ugly as it sounds. The Brooklyn Nets shot 37% for the game, just 6-21 (28.6%) from beyond the arc. They recorded more turnovers (18) than assists (16), and got blown out by 30 points despite shooting 21 more free throws over the course of the game. The Nets allowed the Celtics to slice inside without incident: the Celtics made more field goals in the restricted area in the first half (17, in 22 attempts) than the Nets did in the entire game (16, on 37 attempts). Not to be outdone by their own ineptitude, the Nets also allowed the Celtics to shoot 11-19 from beyond the arc, most of that damage done by Jason Terry (5-5) and Paul Pierce (4-4).
The Celtics are a vastly better defensive team, and it showed. But though the Nets lost this game deservedly and handily, the defensive effort wasn't as bad as the numbers might indicate. There were moments when the Nets played what appeared to be solid defense for the entire shot clock, only to see Jason Terry nail a 3 with a hand in his face. Or Kevin Garnett hit a fallaway turnaround with a hand in his face. Or Paul Pierce nail a 3 with a hand in… you get the idea. The Nets did contest a fair share of shots. They just didn't contest enough. The Celtics hitting tough shots only turned it from "decent win" to "complete blowout."
"We needed a game like this against a good defensive team," Deron Williams said after the game. "We need to play better against a team like this." Tyshawn Taylor concurred: "I think we needed this a bit. We can go back to the drawing board, see where we made our mistakes, and just get better from it. We can always turn a loss into a positive."
"As competitors, we don't like losing," Taylor later added.
The Celtics were undoubtedly the better team, but Thursday night's game served as a reminder that while Paul Pierce is a man of indomitable skill, luck does play a subdued role in a game-to-game ebbs and flows. Pierce and Terry won't combine to go 9-9 every single night, just as Williams and Johnson won't go 6-22. And consider Tuesday: the Celtics won't always allow a team sitting their starters to beat them on their home court.
Regardless, the Nets don't have too much time to dwell on this loss -- they play again less than 24 hours later, against the 76ers, in Brooklyn.
Also, need I remind you that it's preseason?
-MarShon Brooks is healthy, and barring a later injury, should have no issues playing the remainder of postseason. However, Avery Johnson noted pregame that his assumed role as the sixth man of this team is in jeopardy: "We're not going to box ourselves in. It'd be great if (he) was in the sixth man role, but right now with the way C.J. and Blatche and those guys are playing… Joe Johnson is going to anchor our second unit. So he would be the default sixth man."
-Tyshawn Taylor is also healthy.
-Crash watch: jumped and tap-danced on the scoreboard diving after a loose ball, got a sweet chasedown block on a dribble-drive, dove out of bounds on at least two occasions.
-Joe Johnson picked up a flagrant foul in the third quarter on one of the softer flagrant fouls I've ever seen, for pushing Paul Pierce in the back with his forearm until he fell out of bounds. It was absolutely a flagrant, but usually when you hear "flagrant" you think of someone slamming down on a player's back or elbowing him in the chest. This was just a simple, smooth push.