Notes from Nets-Knicks in Nassau

Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams

In the Brooklyn Nets’ final ultimately meaningless game, played in a building that was architecturally ancient on building day, the Nets took yet another preseason game to overtime. The final call in both final frames ended in failure, as MarShon Brooks flailed towards the basket with no avail as the clock ran down. Brooks foolishly expected a referee, playing a meaningless game in Hempstead, N.Y., to give these respective reserves a chance to play even more mediocre preseason basketball.

For those of you anguished by this final preseason loss, do yourself and your psyche a solid and take no inference from the crunch-time play in this contest for one reason and one reason alone. The Nets did not play a starter for the final 11:43 of the game. MarShon Brooks, for all his glory, will never take that last-second shot in a meaningful game with this roster. The supposition that he will is predicated on the idea that, even in the unlikely event that he is in the game with the Nets’ current wealth of offensive talent, the playcall would be “MarShon Brooks iso.” Brooks, for all his scoring talent, is fighting for a reserve spot on a roster with an entrenched starting lineup. There are at least seven players at this point more likely to see the floor in crunch time. If Coach Johnson does fall into the folly of pushing late-game isolations — he did say that he “liked the shot” — MarShon will not be the go-to scorer.

Despite the final score, some additional scattered thoughts:

  • Avery Johnson said before the game that two of his major keys were the team’s pick-and-roll and transition defense. Transition defense seemed to work: the Knicks got zero fast-break points all game (though there was one stretch in the second quarter where Ronnie Brewer plucked the ball from MarShon Brooks’ fingers and got a layup on the break). The pick-and-roll defense (without checking the numbers) seemed much stronger when the starters were on the floor, but fell apart once the reserves came in.
  • Nassau Coliseum is not a basketball arena. Aside from clocking in at roughly seven degrees, the arena’s built into the ground in the middle of a parking lot miles from a metropolis. From the outside, it resembles a museum dedicated to alien landings that hasn’t been open on thirty years. It’s not difficult to understand why the Islanders are moving to Brooklyn.
  • This was not a Nets home game, no matter what the schedule said. Knicks fans outnumbered Nets fans easily tonight, which was easy enough to expect; the Nets haven’t exactly built their fanbase in Long Island and the Knicks had a long head start. Knicks jerseys outnumbered Nets jerseys at least 50-1, which was an accurate representation of fan attendance at the game.
  • The Knicks played almost this entire game without Tyson Chandler, and on a related note, the Nets got 40 attempts at the rim. The Nets didn’t play their starters for over half the game, and on a related note, they only made 18 of those shots. Chandler left the arena on crutches and his prognosis is expected today. So many bobbled offensive rebounds and missed layups.
  • Rasheed Wallace remains the most entertaining player in the league. Sheed was yelling from the bench with an undignified aplomb for all four quarters. He may not play a minute, and he doesn’t look in shape to, but his bench-mobbing is in prime form.
  • Speaking of yelling from the bench: Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert, at multiple times, whenever Andray Blatche had the ball: “he’s terrible, he’s horrible.”
  • You could balance a house of cards on Iman Shumpert’s flat-top.
  • Early on, it seemed that Deron Williams was headed for yet another pour-threes-and-make-em-cry Knicks game, hitting three open three-point looks in the first quarter. It’s hard to get overly excited about anything Nets starters did in this game, as Chandler sat after the first 44 seconds, and chances are with the proper rotations influenced by a Chandler-run defense don’t allow as many open looks.
  • Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni will make the Knicks, an opinion based solely on how well they play individually and in tandem. Prigioni in particular presented passing prestidigitation, hitting teammates with no-looks and behind-the-backs all game en route to 11 assists. He also got hit once in his Prigioni.
  • Every time Brook Lopez takes two steps forward, it seems like he takes an additional step back. Lopez seemed stronger defensively last night than ever (i.e. “playing somewhat average defense”), meeting guards laterally when rotating to cut off pick-and-rolls instead of immediately backpedaling, and contested shots at the rim. But he also only pulled down one rebound, committed five fouls, and didn’t get involved in the offense against a team that didn’t have Tyson Chandler in 23 minutes.
  • Joe Johnson’s post up game is all sorts of strong. The Knicks may have to start Jason Kidd at shooting guard opening night, and if they do, expect a lot of post-up opportunities for Johnson. Even if they switch or throw the double at him, Johnson’s a smart enough offensive player that they’re going to get good looks out of that action.
  • MarShon Brooks after the game: “now they count.” Which is yet another reminder that in six games in which the Nets fussed with rotations, didn’t play most of their playbook, worked out the kinks in their pick-and-roll defense, played C.J. Watson about 30 billion minutes, and played games in Atlantic City and Hempstead, N.Y., after all that, the Nets were… 3-3. #HelloInsignificant