The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

The Nets escaped on the skin of their free throws when they should've rested the whole fourth. Brooklyn spent entirely too much of the second half "holding off" Philadelphia, instead of "blowing out" Philadelphia.

The 76ers are an awful basketball team, and the Nets handed them their 60th loss of the season, but a 21-point lead dissipated over the course of third- and fourth-quarter minutes to as little as three points, and the Nets vaunted bench could only just keep the 76ers at bay.

A win means you can't fail, but the Nets almost failed themselves with their fourth-quarter performance.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

When everyone is scoring, it's usually a testament to how Williams is facilitating: he had an excellent all-around game against the hapless 76ers, scoring inside and setting up teammates for easy buckets. By on-court and off-court player ratings, the Nets are worst with Williams off the floor, and best with Williams on it. That doesn't excuse his role in much of the team's fourth-quarter collapse, but he did hit a four-point play and two key free throws in crunch time to help seal the win.

Shaun Livingston POINT GUARD

Quiet, distributory, still unstoppable from inside nine feet. Some shoddy crunch-time play, including two missed free throws at a key moment, bring his grade down. But backboards need not apply for disruption.

One note: while it's true that Deron Williams plays far better with Livingston on the floor with him than Livingston on the bench, the same is true the other way: they're best when they can share the creative duties.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

Quiet game from Johnson, but the Nets didn't play their starters much in the second half.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Loved the way he attacked and spread the ball around, but not an incredibly impactful game.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Welcome back, KG. Had a solid first stint, hitting his first four shots, including a rim-rattling dunk near the end of the first half. Though the standard caveat applies -- they were playing the awful Philadelphia 76ers -- he didn't appear to have any rust despite missing the last 19 games. If the Nets can get that KG in the playoffs for 25 minutes a game, that'll make a huge difference.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Andray Blatche has spent 10,000 hours taking ballet with a matador.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

You really, really don't like when a player shoots an airball in crunch time. He really, really makes up for it by burying a shot from the exact same spot without any hesitation on the next play.

Marcus Thornton SHOOTING GUARD

Still impressed by how well he fits in defensively after his reputation as a poor defender in Sacramento, and he did hit four free throws down the stretch to help seal the game. But a shooter's conscience isn't always a good thing.

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks&
Dunks.

Had his issues defensively, one day he'll do something else offensively, and one day he'll figure out how to limit his fouls. But every one of his made field goals was the easiest way to put the ball in the basket. Hard to complain about that.


 

As soon as he rolled, you knew. He knew. Jim knew. Everybody knew. And it was still awesome.

 

In a wild end to the first half of Saturday night's Nets-76ers game, Deron Williams threw down a slam for the third time this year after a steal led to an open lane in transition.

It was also the 26th consecutive game Williams picked off a steal, tying a Nets franchise record.

 

Hey Kevin Garnett, you haven't played in over a month. How are you feeling? I imagine you might be stiff, or might have issues re-adjusting to the NBA's speed, or maybe...

Never mind. Carry on.

 

The Philadelphia 76ers aren't a good basketball team. Here's Mason Plumlee taking advantage of that. Plumlee spins free as Deron Williams finds him for the oop.

A bit of context: on this play, Plumlee ran ahead of the defense when the Nets secured the ball in the backcourt, but Marcus Thornton didn't see him. D-Will made up for Thornton's lack of vision.

 

Shaun Livingston dropped a team-high 23 points on the Detroit Pistons Friday night. Is he still hot? LET THIS SHOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION.

 

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett (AP)

After missing 19 straight games, Brooklyn Nets center Kevin Garnett will make his return to the floor against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, Nets coach Jason Kidd announced before the game.

Garnett will start, replacing Mason Plumlee in the starting lineup. According to reports from in the arena, Garnett will play limited minutes in his return.

Garnett has averaged 6.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game this season, but hasn't played since February 27th after incurring back spasms. The Nets have gone 14-5 in his absence.

 

4l3yfb

Even though the Nets thrashed the Detroit Pistons last night, they still sit 2.5 games behind both the Chicago Bulls (4th seed) and Toronto Raptors (3rd seed) for home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

With the Raptors off tonight and the Bulls playing at Washington, the Nets have a chance to gain some ground if they can do what the world expects them to do in Philly tonight: win.

Though the Sixers have just 17 wins this season, one of them came against the Nets back on December 20th. Of course, that was a different Nets team and a different Sixers team: since January 1st, the Nets are an Eastern Conference-best 31-13 while the Sixers are near the Eastern Conference cellar at 8-38.

Here's three things to watch ahead:
Next

 

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

Will Kevin Garnett get the call against the Philadelphia 76ers? It's not definite, but there's a distinct possibility.

After missing 19 straight games, the Nets have listed Kevin Garnett as a game-time decision against the Philadelphia 76ers, after Garnett made the flight to Philadelphia with the team.

Garnett hasn't played since February 27th, battling back spasms ever since a 12-minute stint against the Denver Nuggets. He was slated to play on March 10th, but was a late scratch from the starting lineup after feeling tightness in his back.

Kidd said after his team's Friday night win against the Detroit Pistons that Garnett was feeling better, but he hadn't talked to Garnett at all about whether or not he'd start or come off the bench if he plays. "I just want to make sure (that) he's going to go," Kidd said.

 

The Nets picked up 55 points off their bench Friday night in their win over the Detroit Pistons, led by none other than the Fearza, the Bosnian Bomber, MT3 himself Mirza Teletovic, who put up 20 points for the fourth time this season.

Teletovic has shuffled in and out of productivity in the last few months, mixing big shooting nights with bouts of inactivity. But those nights come more often than you'd think: Teletovic leads the NBA with seven games of five or more three-pointers off the bench, and three with six or more, including last night's 6-10 outburst.

As one follower put it:

 

Shaun Livingston is a throwback to a time that doesn't exist: when 6'7" point guards dominated smaller guards on the block by rising over them with a high, unblockable shot release. Of his 11 made field goals, 5 came in post-up opportunities on just six attempts.

On 77 post-up plays this season, Livingston has averaged 1.21 points per possession, the best figure in the lead, which led to the technically-true headline. (Hello, click-baited!) Sure, he might not stop or score on Al Jefferson, but he uses his length and quickness to exploit his nightly mismatches in a variety of ways: one-handed floaters, back-down and pull-up, turnaround on the baseline, and occasionally spins free for a dunk.

Just look at Livingston's shot chart from Friday night:

LIV

That shot chart's more reminiscent of Brook Lopez, not Deron Williams. It's why I've said before that Livingston is secretly a power forward/point guard hybrid in the Nets offense: The Nets have three shooters (Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce) spaced around Livingston and Plumlee/Garnett.

Livingston has never been a perimeter shooter, but he knows it, and he uses that knowledge to his advantage. Here's a sampling of what he told The Brooklyn Game about his inside scoring: "Guards want to go under, teams want to go under me because my perimeter or lack of shooting, but what they don't realize is that once they go under, I'm so low, now I'm at my spot. It's either make or miss, and if you help, now we have the kick-out for the shooters."

 

Mirza Teletovic, Josh Smith

The Nets shot the lights out on "Brooklyn Blue Nights" and earned a victory. (AP)

Hello Marquis. It was a good day indeed. Thank you for your continued support of The Brooklyn Game. Impress everyone on the team plane with a hoodie from The Brooklyn Game Store. Your support keeps us writing stupid things about basketball. Thanks!

Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.
... MORE →