For the past couple of games the Nets have been pretty competitive. Now that is great and all, but the Nets seem to abandon everything they do correctly in the first three quarters, and just fall apart in the 4th quarter. In the past 4 games, the Nets have been out scored by a total of 14 points. Surprisingly, it the Nets' defense isn't the culprit. The most points that the Nets have given up in the fourth is 26 points. However, the offense has been able to only match their opponents efforts, or under-perform, not scoring enough to get/hold the lead. So what are the Nets doing wrong? Well, it is a combination of things, and to examine it, we are going to look at the 4th quarter of last Tuesday's Nets-Pistons game.
While we are only looking at one game, rest assured that this has happened in each fourth quarter of the past 5 or 6 games. This has been something that has been hurting the Nets for a little bit now.
Poor Shot Selection
In my opinion, it is all about shot selection. For the past couple games, the Nets have been very aggressive in the first three quarters. In the final quarter though, they lose their will to attack the basket. For some reason, they are willing to settle for swinging it around the perimeter and taking an outside shot. I showed you the shot chart against the Celtics, but now, I am going to show you with some video clips. The worst part of these shots are the situation. This first play I am going to show you is with the Nets up two. Naturally you are going to think that the Nets are going to run the clock down and run something attacking the basket. Instead, the Nets settle for a three:
Up 2, the Nets settle for a corner 3 with 10 seconds left on the Shot Clock. Now you can get a contested three point shot at any point during the shot clock, so why wind it down more? Also, the early three means that the Nets bigs are in poor position to try and get the offensive rebound. So it is one and done for the Nets. The Pistons come down and tie the game. So you would think the Nets would want to attack the basket and try to get the lead, nope:
Now on this play, the Nets threw 5 or 6 perimeter passes, then threw it inside and Brook took this jumper. No attack dribble, no trying to get into the lane. Just pass, pass, pass, pass, shot. That kind of offense doesn't work late in games. With Brook Lopez shooting a 17 foot jumper, he is out of the lane, and unable to battle for a rebound. So again, it is one and done for the Nets. The Pistons get the ball, and score on a brilliant play off the timeout. The Nets come back and settle for another long contested jumper:
I broke down this play over at NBAPlaybook, so check it out if you want to take a real in-depth look. This play was doomed from the start, and the Nets were quickly out of sync. Devin actually had an opportunity to attack the basket, but he went for a step back pump fake. He then swung it to Courtney Lee who took a contested three. Now look at the clock, the Nets took 18 seconds to get this shot off. Now, this is the Nets not knowing the situation. They started the possession with about 44 seconds left, this gave them the chance to get a two-for-one opportunity. If they get a shot off with 35-30 seconds left, even if they miss, they don't have to foul, and this gives them a chance to get a stop, and have another chance at the win/tie.
So What Can The Nets Do?
I am starting to sound like a broken record, but they need to attack the basket. The good thing is that we are starting to see shades of it. On Friday against these same Pistons, the Nets went on a 11-2 run in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they returned to their old selves. I like to blame this on the lack of close game experience the Nets have had. This is a real young/inexperienced group (Humphries/Brook/Courtney Lee have been out there in the closing moments), and they still are learning how to win (It appears my post on that a week ago was a bit premature huh?). Hopefully the next time the Nets are in this situation, they will realize attacking the basket is the key to getting wins.