Over the past 10-15 games, the Nets have been competitive in every single game in spurts. The most glaring example of the Nets' Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde act was their game against the Portland Trailblazers. In the first half, the Nets were down 19 points and only scored 37 points, that's pretty bad. In the 3rd quarter, the Nets scored 33 points and cut the lead to 7. That's pretty good. Since we usually focus on the bad (we don't do it intentionally), I want to focus on the good of the third quarter for the Nets, showing what they did (and need to do moving forward) and how they did it.
On offense, the Nets came out of the gate clicking. The biggest thing is that they were running their sets all the way through. We know the Nets sets, some of them are pretty good and some of them aren't, but the biggest problem for the Nets isn't the actual set. It is that the Nets' players seem to get antsy when running things, and plays never get run correctly, or all the way through. Look at this video though.
This is a play that the Nets run at least 10-15 times a game (not exaggerating), and I think that this is the best they ever ran it. The first thing is Brook, look how he sets up Devin's man for the screen. He fakes a seal, spins, and hits a screen. Trenton Hassell remains patient knowing the play is developing and waits for Devin to get open. Devin gets open, and knocks down the jumper. If the Nets ran all of their sets as hard as that, they would get so many more open jumpers.
One of the reasons the Nets do get antsy when running their sets is because when options get taken away, they don't know how to react. Against the Blazers in the third quarter, the Nets were really patient in looking for their other options:
On this play, there are like 3 instances where the main option is taken away. First, when Devin tries to get it to Courtney, he is denied so Devin gets it to Hassell. Lee then comes off a double screen, makes the catch, but the shot isn't there. Instead of forcing something, he pulls it out. Brook comes over to set the screen for him, but it doesn't develop properly, so instead of forcing through the screen and roll, Courtney Lee kicks it to Yi who hits the jumper.
The final thing on the offensive end, is that they pushed it smartly. When Kiki took over, he wanted the team to push the basketball no matter what. It didn't work, but that doesn't mean running at opportune times doesn't work:
Here, the Blazers score and instead of walking it up, Devin sprints it up the court. Nobody stops him, so he gets himself into the paint, pump fakes, and hits the lay-up. The total time? 4 seconds.
When coming back, you can't just score with the other team. You need to get stops, and the Nets were able to get stops against the Blazers in the third quarter. I want to look at two clips from the Nets on the defensive end:
The Nets are so poor at rotating on defense. I have dedicated a bunch of posts to it, so it is only fair to point out when the Nets rotate correctly. Here, after coming off of a screen, Brandon Roy gets to the baseline (though Yi did a pretty good job of slowing him down). The help comes, and Roy kicks the ball out to the baseline. The ball quickly gets swung around to LaMarcus Aldridge, who seems to be open, until Yi rotates out and challenges the shot.
That was good rotation from Yi, but in general, he was completely abused by LaMarcus Aldridge. So what did the Nets do? They didn't let him continue to get abused, they doubled:
The Nets switched up when they sent their doubles. Sometimes they would do it on the first dribble, but here they sent it right on the catch. Aldridge isn't ready for the hard double team and he is forced into a timeout.