Here’s One Nets Play Last Night That Wasn’t Horrific

The Nets didn’t play so well last night, for reasons documented on this site. They didn’t defend the rim or the perimeter well, had some additional bad luck defensively, and didn’t run many good offensive sets. It was an all-around terrible heaping of awfulness.

There was one set, however, that ended in an open three-pointer for Deron Williams, made successful because Deron Williams is a bull of a point guard and thus can both cause and take advantage of defensive breakdowns.

For convenience, I’ve tucked the play design in the top right corner of the images, to give a fuller picture of the play as it develops. Thanks to FastDraw Technologies for the play design application FastDraw. They are and remain the best.

This play started around 4:06 in the second quarter:

The Nets have Deron Williams with the ball shaded to the left side. He’s trailing Kris Humphries, who’s running to the high left elbow, occupied by a soon-spaced out Gerald Wallace. MarShon Brooks is tucked in the opposite corner, and Brook Lopez is set up on the opposite block.

Williams dumps the ball off to Wallace on the wing, and Humphries turns to set a screen for Williams. It’s not a particularly strong screen, though, and whether or not it’s intentional, it works as a decoy, allowing Rondo to get through to the lane.

There are two keys here: firstly, Rondo trailing Williams, because his reaction becomes a part of what allows the Nets to get an open look for 3; secondly, Brooks cutting across to the opposite corner, taking Courtney Lee’s potential help defense out of the play.

This is where Williams’ bulk really comes into play. It first appeared that Williams was merely rolling to the opposite corner, but he suddenly cuts upward to set a screen. In the span of about two seconds, Williams sets a screen on both Brandon Bass (guarding Brook Lopez) and Jared Sullinger (guarding Kris Humphries).

The Bass screen doesn’t work well, but the Sullinger one does, and Rondo (who has now circled around Deron Williams) has to cover Humphries cutting along the weak side.

Though Humphries isn’t an athletic marvel, he’s still got a great mismatch under the rim with Rondo on his back, and no help available from Lee since Brooks cut across the paint. This would’ve been a great option for Wallace to pass to as well, but it’s also something that needs to be timed perfectly, so Wallace doesn’t risk it in favor of the surer option Williams, who will soon be on an open island.

Wallace opts to wait for Sullinger to trail down towards the paint and recover, leaving Williams wide open. Does he hit the three? WELL, JUST SEE FOR YOURSELF!

This type of play again stresses why having a point guard like Deron Williams is such an advantage. Along with his many skills, Williams is also strong enough to set those screens without finding himself subject to having his ass hit the floor without incident. Bass fought through the screen, but had to fight; Williams then took advantage of the rookie Sullinger, making his own open shot possible, and nailing the three.

So don’t stay down, guys. There is hope! HOPE, I SAY!