Michael Prokhorov's comment that the Nets are "one good player" away from being an "a really strong team" may be true, but isn't it sort of an odd time to say that?
First, some of us fans have temporarily entered into the belief -- perhaps fantasy, but emotionally real -- that the Nets already are "a really strong team." Apparently not, says the Nets owner. If we can't at least imagine the team going all the way right now, or very far, it takes some of the fun out of the playoffs.
Second, as you're suiting up for this crucial second game, how are you going to feel about these comments if you are Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries, or MarShon Brooks, each of whom are potential trade bait for that "one good player" that the team still needs? I imagine one or two of them might have been under the impression that they themselves were "good" players.
Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom writes:
The Bulls defended and rebounded against the Nets, and waited for the Nets to do dumb things. And the Nets did them.
Such as blowing a 16-point lead at home the last time the teams played. Such as allowing Nazr Mohammed to block Brook Lopez down the stretch. Such as choking against a Bulls team missing Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Marco Belinelli, Richard Hamilton and, of course, Rose.
There was one double-digit result in the series, and the Bulls took that one --- after the Nets blew an 11-point lead. See what I’m saying?
The Nets might not be Sacramento Kings-like dumb, but when the Nets turn stupid, they usually stay stupid.
(h/t Stefan Bondy)
If this was supposed to be considered a playoff type game, then I like the Nets chances heading into the start of post-season. Led by the Nets superstar trio of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez the Nets grinded out a win over the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse, sweeping the season series and locking up the fourth seed and home court in the playoffs in the process.
This game looked like it was headed towards being a laugher early in third quarter as the Nets opened up a 24-point lead. The Pacers roared back in the third quarter, however, and briefly took a lead in the 4th quarter before the Nets were able to vanquish them for good.
The big story tonight was the continued brilliance of Williams who finished with 33 points and 14 assists and was in attack mode all night, especially in the second quarter when he erupted for 20 points. Williams’ outside shot was falling as he hit five three-pointers, but more important was Williams’ attack of the paint, which was relentless and at times unstoppable for any Pacer perimeter defender.
The tide turned a bit in the second half when the Pacers put Paul George and his length on Williams, but that only opened the door for Joe Johnson to put his thumbprint on the game.
Instead of erupting for points like Williams did, Johnson’s 24 points came as a slow, steady burn. He abused smaller matchups and floated on the perimeter for timely three-point shots. Johnson’s scoring was especially crucial down the stretch when the Nets were desperate for offense and the Pacers were surging.
The last component of the Nets big three is Brook Lopez and although he was quiet for most of the second half, Lopez set the tone early, easily driving around Pacer big man Roy Hibbert and hitting a myriad of mid-range jumpers to score 14 first quarter points. In the Nets final few possessions, Lopez was used as a ball screener for Williams and his rolling, swooping left-handed layup that came at the 2:23 mark just about clinched the game for the Nets.
It was a chippy, physical game. Deron Williams left hobbling with a knee bruise, Reggie Evans was ejected and Keith Bogans and Lance Stephenson were involved in a scrap that led to a double technical, but if this was a sign of what the playoffs will be like, the Nets responded to the test.
When they’re 24 point lead evaporated in the fourth quarter and the Indiana crowd was rocking, the Nets did not wilt. Instead, they took every Pacer punch, absorbed them, and fought back to reclaim the lead. As the playoffs near, teams will turn to their superstars to lead and tonight the Nets’ big three shone.
Tonight's Nets vs. Pacers game is pivotal for Eastern Conference playoff positioning. With a magic number of two, the Nets are looking to lock up the fourth seed while also simultaneously chase down the Pacers in a last grasp chance at the three seed. A heads up win tonight will help both of those causes. Here to help us preview the matchup is Jared Wade of the ESPN Truehoop Network Pacers blog, 8 points, 9 Seconds.
Justin DeFeo: What needs to happen for the Pacers in the post season for this year to be dubbed a success?
Jared Wade: Reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. They played the Heat tough in round two last season and showed something the year before in round one against the Bulls (though they lost in five games). This followed a near-decade of nonsense and mediocrity after the brawl in Detroit.
So as long as they make that one additional step in the 2013 playoffs, it will be an excellent year. Or, as much as Pacers' fans would hate to admit it, even losing a really good series in the second round that goes seven games and stays close would be satisfying. With no Danny Granger, just getting closer towards being relevant in June again is what the franchise needs. Speaking of the playoffs, who would the Nets most like to see in the first round?
DeFeo: Great question, can I choose none of the above? I think of the teams in range for the Nets to play in the first round, the Celtics, Hawks and Bulls all present different problems to the Nets and would all be tough outs. Of those three, the Nets would probably like to see the Bulls and Celtics least, so by process of elimination that leaves the Hawks as the most favorable first round matchup. But I think we can all agree that every team in the East is trying to avoid the Heat in any round like the plague. Early this season the Pacers were being picked as a team that could beat Miami in a series. Do you think thats still possible if they meet?
... MORE →
The Brooklyn Nets showed up to TD Garden looking to take the season series from the Boston Celtics. The game was an interesting one for Brooklyn in that not only was it important for playoff seeding, but it was also an opportunity for the Nets to show that they are gaining some traction and consistency with just five games left in the regular season. In addition, it gave them an opportunity to beat an above .500 team on the road.
As of late, the Nets have struggled against playoff-bound squads: unable to piece together a complete performance against good teams. In fact, their last win vs. a playoff-bound team before tonight, came over a month ago in a 93-80 win over the Atlanta Hawks back on March 9th.
Tonight, though, was a different story. What began as a sloppy game from both teams, ended in what many would call “the Deron Williams show.” Williams, who was absolutely sensational, finished with 29 points, 12 assists while converting all 10 of his free throws. As Jerry Stackhouse noted after the game, "I think since the break, he's been as good as anybody playing. Not just point guards - anybody."
Since the All-star break, the scintillating Williams is averaging 22.5 PPG while shooting 48% from the field and 42.8% from three. Tonight, he was able to force Avery Bradley -- the player who many consider to be one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders -- to bench with foul trouble for most of the night. D-Will's bounce is back and if a player like Bradley is overmatched while trying to guard him, then likely every other player will be too.
What does this mean for the Nets? It means that the player they signed this summer to a $99 million contract is finally playing the way that they expected him to play: like the NBA’s best point guard. It also just so happens to come at the perfect time.
As was posted earlier Wednesday on The Brooklyn Game, the most likely scenario for the Nets come playoff time, is to end up playing either the Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks in the first round of a 4-5 matchup with Brooklyn being the four seed and getting home court advantage. One thing is for sure though; the Nets’ “big three” of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez must carry them the rest of the way.
Rarely have we seen the Nets’ big three play the way they did against Boston: in unison and with chemistry and cohesion. The trio combined for a whopping 70 points on 25-47 (53%) shooting Wednesday night, hitting big shot after big shot to eventually ice the game and take the season series from the Celtics for the first time since the 05’-06’ season.
With Joe Johnson’s health fluctuating recently, it’s been difficult for he and Williams to get on the same page and have dual-efficient nights. The fact that Johnson, who has been hampered by a sore heal for the past few weeks, was not only able to take the court in the second game of a back-to-back, but was also able to pour in 20 on a super efficient shooting night, is a terrific sign for the Nets heading into the post-season. If they can get more games like Wednesday nights, where Williams, Lopez, and Johnson all have it clicking, they can certainly do some damage in the playoffs.
One rather frightening sign tonight was that of Gerald Wallace being carried to the Nets locker room by two teammates in the second quarter. Luckily though, it was reported that the injury -- a bruised left heal -- was nothing too serious and although he was forced by Deron Williams and Tim Walsh to wear a walking boot after the game, it was said that Wallace should be considered day-to-day.
As we know, the Nets like to be cautious with their injured players (especially the ones in the first year of a 4-year, $40 million contract). Perhaps for Wallace, the injury could give him a chance to rest before the playoffs and potentially gain some of that confidence back that he proclaimed was “totally gone.”
All in all, we may want to chalk this game up to “typical Nets basketball:” a.k.a. being consistently inconsistent. Maybe the Celtics aren’t a very good basketball team anymore without their point guard Rajon Rondo or maybe the Nets have finally turned the page in preparation for the post-season. Either way tonight was encouraging in the fact that it was played the way Brookyln Nets basketball should be played: let the big three carry the load while the role players fill their roles.
Brooklyn's next true test of consistency comes Friday night when they take on the Pacers of Indiana.
To run or not to run, that is the question.
The Nets pace (or lack there of) has been a topic of discussion amongst those following the franchise all season. The Nets play the second slowest pace in the NBA, as they are just a shade quicker than the New Orleans Hornets. There are advantages and disadvantages to playing at such a slow pace and we're taking a deep dive into both styles. After presenting the arguments for each speed, we're asking you the reader to decide which way is best for this Nets team. Let's get to it.
Reasons NOT to run.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
As stated earlier The Nets are almost the slowest playing team in the NBA, edging the Hornets for the right to be the league’s sloth. Despite this slow pace though, the Nets score 104.4 points per 100 possessions, an efficiency rating that puts them ahead of all but eight other teams. They are outscoring opponents by 1.1 points per game and their 42 wins (so far) have them in contention for a division title and an outside chance at the East’s number two overall seed. Point is, the Nets’ pace works for them and they project to finish right in the range that most basketball savvy pundits predicted they would, or should.
Knowing that the status quo isn’t always a great thing to stick to, would an innovative coach change things up and attack more in transition? Perhaps. But the fact is, two different head coaches have taken a look at this roster, weighed its strengths and weaknesses and both have decided to play at a super-slow speed. That should tell you something. As the old saying goes, if your basketball system ain’t broke, don’t fix it. ... MORE →