Nets Raptors Basketball

The Nets and Raptors start their playoff series Saturday in Toronto. (AP)

 

What had happened was: The Nets cast aside their usual uniforms and instead collectively donned a massive white flag in the final game of the regular season, which they lost 114-85 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The game mercifully brought to an end a streak of uninspired, boring basketball the Nets largely played over the final two weeks.

The Nets made rest their first priority, as Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Garnett, Alan Anderson, and Mirza Teletovic sat this one out. Instead, the Nets fielded a vaunted five of Jorge Gutierrez, Marquis Teague, Marcus Thornton, Andray Blatche, and Jason Collins. Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee made appearances of the bench, which was weird, because I wasn’t used to seeing NBA players on the court when they got in the game.

That was: A chore. No one wanted to watch the Nets’ collection of also-rans come out and skirmish with a non-playoff game when the team clearly didn’t give a damn, and this was in many senses not even an NBA game.

Where they stand: After a few days of jockeying, the dust has settled. The Nets will take the No. 6 seed and play the Toronto Raptors, who beat the New York Knicks Wednesday to cement their spot in the No. 3 seed, in the first round of the playoffs. Game 1 will take place at the Air Canada Centre Saturday on ESPN. Time TBD. With the loss, the Nets locked a spot in Miami’s half of the Eastern Conference bracket, which means Brooklyn will play No. 2 Miami in the second round if the Nets advance and Miami takes care of business against No. 7 Charlotte.

This came amid much dismay that the Nets would have to play the Chicago Bulls in the first round once again. The No. 4 Bulls will instead play the No. 5 Washington Wizards.

The stats: Well, they weren’t great. Marcus Thornton led the Nets with 20 points on 6-of-19 shooting — and shoot he did. The cuffs were off for Thornton, who is not shy about shooting in the first place. This was an exhibition in gunning.

Andray Blatche posted 20 points (8-of-18 shooting) and 12 rebounds and featured his usual collection of moves and hilarity. Andrei Kirilenko MADE A PAIR OF FREE THROWS and I don’t care about anything else he did.

Jason Collins was set free to fire, logging eight points on eight shots. The lumbering big man played 39 minutes, and you have to figure he’ll never play that many in an NBA game again.

Shot Chart Rorschach Test: A Christmas-themed square donut.
donut

Is Marquis Teague in the D-League yet? That’s a nope.

Game Grades: Read 'em here.

Was this wise? Maybe. Williams needed the rest. If Johnson needed it, he never would have told you so. Pierce has his shoulder thingy, and Garnett sweats a new ocean after each two-minute stint. There were reasons not to care, but there were also reasons to try and avoid Miami in the second round and stay in rhythm.

Also, I take a little more seriously Jason Kidd’s assertion that Garnett’s minutes load won’t increase in the playoffs given that he had absolutely no chance to increase it incrementally during the regular season. The Nets can probably only count on him for 22 minutes a game in the postseason.

WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?

Shaun Livingston, not doin’ things: He didn’t play. That toe is really actin’ up.

Can you give me a comparison for the number of fast-break dunks the Nets gave up in the second half? Sure thing!

Across the river: The Knicks lost to the Toronto Raptors, putting to bed their miserable season and giving them 37 wins, matching the SCHOENE projection that Knicks fans were quick to call absurd before the season began.

Take that, Masai Ujiri.

Next up: The Nets start what they’ve been building toward since Jan. 1. Saturday they get to show that they really were built for the playoffs.

 

The Nets had plenty to joke around about on Thursday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Nets had plenty to joke around about on Thursday. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

 

Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivites:

What happened: The Nets thoroughly obliterated a Denver Nuggets team that is a shell of its healthy self, setting the tone early by going up 29-8 after the first quarter and never letting it get closer than 20 points in atypical Nets fashion. The Nets won the second game of a back-to-back on the road, one night after getting spanked by the Portland Trail Blazers without LaMarcus Aldridge and Thomas Robinson and indicating total embarrassment to reporters after the game.

You could tell Brooklyn's intensity was at its peak, and it was clear Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had no designs of losing this game. The Nets went on to pick up their first win in Denver since Jan. 2007.

Where they stand: The Nets are now 27-29, once again squarely facing that two-games-under-.500 plateau that has plagued them for the last few weeks. They're now 6th in the Eastern Conference, a half game ahead of Charlotte and two games behind Washington, which has won its last five including a triple-overtime thriller over Toronto Thursday.

The stats: The Nets somehow ended up shooting only 47.6 percent, but they held Denver to 37.5 percent and 6-of-22 from deep. The Nuggets had 30 made field goals and 24 turnovers. That race was close for most of the game.

Pierce led the Nets with 18 points. Everyone on the Nets' active roster scored. Yes, that includes Jason Collins, who had 3 points.

If I were a blowhard, I'd say the only important statistic is 1-0, the Nets' record in this game.

Fast breaking the Fast Breakers: 

Vintage Pierce: Pierce only had to play 22 minutes, but he was at his peak. He nailed threes from the top of the key and whirled into icy turnaround jumpers at the elbows. The Nets need this Pierce for the balance of the season in order to compete.

Joe Johnson still might not be healthy: Johnson sat out a game at the beginning of February as a result of knee tendinitis. The way he's moving and shooting, it appears to me that his knee is still barking at him. Johnson's not one to complain, and he never made an excuse last year when he bravely battled plantar fasciitis in the first-round series against the Bulls. But it might be best for the team if Johnson takes some time off now rather than soldiering through it. Given Kidd's hyper-conservative tendencies with injury and rest with the rest of his roster, I'm not sure why Johnson isn't getting the same opportunity to heal.

Kirilenko has been working on his granny shot:

78e9b

I defy you to show me a more Kirilenko shot than that.

Shaun Livingston, doing things: He did things. Nothing worthy of a GIF or video. But he was there. Stuff got done by him. He finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and more than zero stuffs done.

The Alan Anderson/Marcus Thornton Experiment: Alan Anderson didn't play in the first three quarters of this game, and that was notable because he has played in every single game this season for the Nets. He's not shooting well (he's under 40 percent from the field this season and his three-point stroke has been ice cold in February). But I don't think his three-quarter DNP is necessarily a harbinger for things to come. This game was a good excuse to get Marcus Thornton some extended minutes and see what he could do with his new teammates. I doubt Kidd has made a decision either way as to which of them will get the bulk of the backup guard minutes down the stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs.

Andray Blatche wants nothing to do with your piggy-back rides:

78dki
Andray Blatche was really good in this game, though: This was a quintessential #TheBestOfBlatche game. Granted, he wasn't wildly inconsistent and unpredictable, but he did all the good Blatche stuff with none of the dumpster-fire Blatche stuff. He had 9 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 steals in 18 minutes. And he drained a three from the wing.

JASON COLLINS HITS A LONG 2:

78eey

Go back to Germany, Dirk. Your services are no longer required. Jason Collins got this.

 

Mason Plumlee

You'd expect these guys to be reversed, yeah? (AP)

Here's a roundup of last night's Brooklyn Nets festivities:
... MORE →

 

Paul Pierce, Kyle Singler, Greg Monroe

Paul Pierce hit a key three late, but it wasn't enough to complete the Nets' comeback.

What once appeared was to be another ho-hum blowout for an indifferent Brooklyn Nets team lacking the services of a key player turned into a furious comeback attempt that just couldn't come through. Nets fans justifiably aching, clawing to assign definite blame in a close loss will point to Andray Blatche's two missed free throws with the Nets down 5 in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. Others will lament the lack of an obvious foul call on a Deron Williams drive that, upon replay review, cost Brooklyn a key possession in the final minute.

(By the way, most people in the NBA community support the use of replay review in the name of getting things right. That makes it all the more painful when an official reviews possession and has to overlook a severe injustice done to the game with his hands behind his back just because fouls aren't reviewable. I know the reasons for this, but it's frustrating to see officials given the tools to get things right have to own what they did very wrong.)

What really happened in Auburn Hills tonight, however, was reminiscent of the Nets' signature stench, in which uninspired play over the course of an entire game gives way to yet another L.... MORE →

Ghost Town

Posted on: November 19th, 2013 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

Jason Kidd Coach

Jason Kidd reflects during Brooklyn's 108-98 loss. His team did after. (AP)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Following Monday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Brooklyn Nets engaged in some roster-wide "reflection," reflection that kept roughly 40 media members out of the locker room, pushed back into a far-off hallway, well out of earshot. Whatever words were tossed around the lockers, it was clear the team didn't want anyone to hear.

After reporters were allowed in, some 30 minutes later, we were introduced to a room filled with... MORE →

 

Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson was the Nets' only starter in uniform Saturday, leaning on the remnants of the roster to assist. (AP)

LOS ANGELES, C.A. -— No player, coach, or GM will ever tell you openly that a team's priorities lie anywhere other than squarely on winning a game on any given night. Saturday the Brooklyn Nets tiptoed carefully along that line, bolstering the suspicion that they're playing the long game: less concerned with nightly results and fixated instead on the holistic process.

Ask any of the Nets about their 110-103 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, and he'll stress that this was a process loss, with the obligatory lip service that a win is a win and a loss yields nothing.
... MORE →

 

Heat Nets Basketball

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Brooklyn Nets' Jason Terry reacts after hitting a three-point basket against the Miami Heat during an NBA basketball game Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

 

Nets Cavaliers Basketball

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Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett , center, shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao, left, of Brazil, and Earl Clark during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

 

Today, the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics' blockbuster trade became official and, thusly, nothing else mattered. However, the Nets played their last Summer League game of the year and literally nobody watched.

The final consolation game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets was not televised today as NBATV opted to switch over to the opening games of the Las Vegas Summer League. Can we blame them?

The Nets only played 6 players today and would eventually fall by three points.

Toko Shengelia scored 11 points in the first quarter, but finished with 14. The Tokomotive chipped in with 5 boards, 4 assists and a steal.

Brooklyn's rookie, Mason Plumlee, had another nice game, scoring 23 points to go along with 5 assists, 5 rebounds and a steal. Plumlee has struggled from the line this week, but shot a nice 9-11 from the charity stripe.

Keith Benson, the lengthy center, easily had his best Summer League game of the year going off for 18 points and 16 rebounds.

But perhaps, most importantly, was the stat line of Chris Wright. Wright poured an efficient 23 points on 50% shooting, adding 7 rebounds and 7 assists and played all 40 minutes. The point guard got a look at a game-tying three at the end of the fourth quarter, but could not convert.

Tyshawn Taylor did not play.

The Nets fell to 0-5, but hey! All things considered, it's nice to read a box score of a game in which the Nets were competitive the entire way through. That's a positive.

And, oh yeah! I don't know if you heard but we acquired Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko today, so like, Summer League Shmummer League, right?

 

I’m clearly going through the five stages of grief.

Two days ago, I wrote that I would try not to get so mad about losing a pointless Summer League game. I hated watching it because these are some of the guys that the Nets are going to have to count on during big stretches next year. I was mad that Summer League didn’t go exactly as I had dreamed.

But today, in the midst of a thrashing by the Championship-bound Houston Rockets, I realized I was completely indifferent. All things considered, we all learned some really important things over the last half-week. We went 0-4, but who cares? Here’s what I took away from this final game against Houston and the week as a whole:

Shooting 36% from the field today, the Nets dug themselves in a deep hole. As the NBA TV Announcers mulled: "This could get ugly guys," we agreed. But, Brooklyn fought back, thankfully. The last quarter and much of the second half was something to be proud of. On the bright side, the Nets only turned the ball over 17 times today. That was an improvement and that is not a typo.

Tyshawn Taylor is not ready for a role with an NBA team—and this is the big one. I love the hustle and effort from Taylor, but he’s 100% not the player that the Nets need. In September, I’d be really surprised to find that there’s any competition at all between Livingston and Taylor. One passes, one shoots; no matter how much potential Taylor has, Livingston’s distributing nature will beat him out. Last week, I literally said: “give Tyshawn the reins to the backup spot.” Well, I changed that tune pretty quickly.

Toko Shengelia has had an up and down Summer League as well. Sometimes, Shengelia looks like he works harder than anyone on the court. Then, he’ll make a complacent pass or stand quietly in the corner, just hoping to get noticed. I truly believe that Toko can be the backup small forward. Of course, he won’t be, but why not? The Nets could use a slashing forward that makes the right pass and can run in the open court. Shengelia didn’t quite have the breakout Summer League performance that he did last year; but we learned quite a bit about Toko: he’s a hustler and gamer. Keep him around, Billy, he deserves a shot.

Mason Plumlee had his moments in the first couple games, but was largely non-existant over the last two. They worked on getting him as many looks at that skyhook, but it’d really be tough for Plumlee top his first appearances. In case you’ve forgotten, his first basket for Brooklyn was the penetrating-spin-move-elevation-two-handed-stuff over the city of Detroit. He'll be battling with Reggie Evans for time behind Lopez this year and I like the rookie's chances.

But we knew about those guys, how about the others? There are really only two here even worth mentioning: David Lighty and Chris Wright. Unfortunately, Wright has little-to-no chance of making the squad, given the logjam at point guard already, but I was impressed by his game. I’d like to see him on Springfield this year if he doesn’t get a shot elsewhere. Wright is fearless like Taylor, but in a good way—willing to give it up even when he doesn’t have to and even sported a little bit of range, too!

David Lighty is an interesting dude. Again, I’m not sure if we’ll see him in Brooklyn this year because he’s not a sexy pick for backup small forward. But after missing out on Korver and Bogdanovic, something has to give right? Lighty could bring some of that 3 and D philosophy that the Nets lost after trading Bogans—and perhaps Paul Pierce could even teach him a thing or two

Oh, and Kidd? Well, he got up when the Nets were losing 17-2 to talk to on the phone. Then he came back and talked to Rod Thorn for a bit. Not much to report other than this:

A: He’ll be ready come November.

B: He’s riding a three-game streak of not getting a technical foul.

You start looking for the little things when you go 0-4. And if you look hard enough, you’ll find them.

 

Here are all the things that the Nets did particularly well today:

What do you mean they lost by 29 points and got absolutely dominated by Jeremy Evans? And you're telling me that Trey Burke didn't play a single second? And Tyshawn Taylor played completely out of control and didn't facilitate the offense at all? Okay, well, I believe that last one.

The Nets fell to 0-3 today at the hands of the Utah Jazz. They got outscored in every quarter and will continue to sit in dead last in Orlando's Summer League. No seriously, I don't really have anything to say. One Twitter user I interacted with called it "a waste of two hours." And it's hard to disagree.

If I had to, I'd say the Nets had their moments of semi-good basketball today. Here they are, read them while I try to stop caring so much about Summer League:

  • NBATV Announcers noted how badly Kidd wanted to get a win. They mentioned multiple times how serious Jason Kidd looked on the sideline.
  • Tyshawn Taylor threw down a furious dunk on Jeremy Evans in the 3rd Quarter. If they weren't down by 30 points thanks to his inability to run a functioning offense, I would have been really excited. See what you do to me, Tyshawn?
  • Toko had another quiet game, but continues to do all the small things right. I actually felt very comfortable when he was facilitating the offense, to be honest. Shengelia has found a knack for being in the right place, making the right pass and running the fast break better than our so-called point guard.
  • Chris Wright chipped in with a solid 20 points as he went 8-13 from the field.
  • David Lighty! With the news that Bogdanovic is staying overseas for another year, the Nets are officially looking for a backup small forward. If they're not completely solid on Toko, Lighty could be a cheap option. Lighty played tight, pesky defense and knocked down a couple wide open threes. Remind you of Keith Bogans? Me too. Nets still have their MLE.
  • All things considered, Mason Plumlee had a quiet night. He threw down one transition dunk but was largely non-existant.
  • At halftime, Billy King confessed that "Toko and Tyshawn have not played well." Interesting to see how that unfolds moving forward.

The Nets play Houston tomorrow at 3pm. I'd tell you that they might finally win tomorrow, but, like... probably not.

 

 

Coach Kidd in action. (h/t @CJZero)

Max Weisberg heavily contributed reporting to this article.

As Jason Kidd said some weeks ago, this is summer school and he’s just here to learn. Class was in session Sunday in Orlando.

As the timeouts were called throughout the 1st half, the flock of Nets’ beat writers that made the trip to Orlando noticed a common theme: it was Lawrence Frank - not Kidd - drawing up the plays in the Nets huddle.

As Josh Newman of SNY described it: Frank is “quarterbacking the huddles.” Howard Beck added that Frank was indeed drawing up the plays, but that Kidd was presenting them to the team.

This is not uncommon for inexperienced head coaches or coaches who have the luxury of having an experienced assistant. It could though, cause some confusion when the Nets have success: should we praise Kidd or Frank for the accomplishments on the court?... MORE →