On Nets are Scorching's second edition of Press Pass, Adena Andrews goes behind-the-scenes (in front of the arena!) with A. Sherrod Blakely, Celtics Insider for Comcast SportsNet and CSNNE.com.
The streak has broken!
After three consecutive wins in ultimately meaningless preseason fashion, the Brooklyn Nets finally fell apart in ultimately meaningless preseason fashion, losing 115-85 to the Boston Celtics in Brooklyn. The Nets fell behind 9-0 in the first 76 seconds and never recovered, trailing by double digits for the last 32 minutes of the game. I'm not sure what the team's defensive rating was by Avery's standards, but by regular ones, the Nets allowed those 115 points on only 94 possessions.
It was as ugly as it sounds. The Brooklyn Nets shot 37% for the game, just 6-21 (28.6%) from beyond the arc. They recorded more turnovers (18) than assists (16), and got blown out by 30 points despite shooting 21 more free throws over the course of the game. The Nets allowed the Celtics to slice inside without incident: the Celtics made more field goals in the restricted area in the first half (17, in 22 attempts) than the Nets did in the entire game (16, on 37 attempts). Not to be outdone by their own ineptitude, the Nets also allowed the Celtics to shoot 11-19 from beyond the arc, most of that damage done by Jason Terry (5-5) and Paul Pierce (4-4).
The Celtics are a vastly better defensive team, and it showed. But though the Nets lost this game deservedly and handily, the defensive effort wasn't as bad as the numbers might indicate. There were moments when the Nets played what appeared to be solid defense for the entire shot clock, only to see Jason Terry nail a 3 with a hand in his face. Or Kevin Garnett hit a fallaway turnaround with a hand in his face. Or Paul Pierce nail a 3 with a hand in… you get the idea. The Nets did contest a fair share of shots. They just didn't contest enough. The Celtics hitting tough shots only turned it from "decent win" to "complete blowout."
"We needed a game like this against a good defensive team," Deron Williams said after the game. "We need to play better against a team like this." Tyshawn Taylor concurred: "I think we needed this a bit. We can go back to the drawing board, see where we made our mistakes, and just get better from it. We can always turn a loss into a positive."
"As competitors, we don't like losing," Taylor later added.
The Celtics were undoubtedly the better team, but Thursday night's game served as a reminder that while Paul Pierce is a man of indomitable skill, luck does play a subdued role in a game-to-game ebbs and flows. Pierce and Terry won't combine to go 9-9 every single night, just as Williams and Johnson won't go 6-22. And consider Tuesday: the Celtics won't always allow a team sitting their starters to beat them on their home court.
Regardless, the Nets don't have too much time to dwell on this loss -- they play again less than 24 hours later, against the 76ers, in Brooklyn.
Also, need I remind you that it's preseason?
-MarShon Brooks is healthy, and barring a later injury, should have no issues playing the remainder of postseason. However, Avery Johnson noted pregame that his assumed role as the sixth man of this team is in jeopardy: "We're not going to box ourselves in. It'd be great if (he) was in the sixth man role, but right now with the way C.J. and Blatche and those guys are playing… Joe Johnson is going to anchor our second unit. So he would be the default sixth man."
-Tyshawn Taylor is also healthy.
-Crash watch: jumped and tap-danced on the scoreboard diving after a loose ball, got a sweet chasedown block on a dribble-drive, dove out of bounds on at least two occasions.
-Joe Johnson picked up a flagrant foul in the third quarter on one of the softer flagrant fouls I've ever seen, for pushing Paul Pierce in the back with his forearm until he fell out of bounds. It was absolutely a flagrant, but usually when you hear "flagrant" you think of someone slamming down on a player's back or elbowing him in the chest. This was just a simple, smooth push.
Hard to place the blame on any one player in tonight's game -- the breakdowns were systemic, and frankly the Celtics made a lot of well-contested shots. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Courtney Lee, and Rajon Rondo all feasted on open and contested looks, inside and out. After the Celtics jumped out to a 9-0 lead, the Nets never really had a shot. Thank goodness it's just preseason.
Your powered-down Net Worth:
Deron Williams: Williams drove the lane, pulled out his fair share of crossovers and spin moves, and got to the line on solid takes to the rim. The defense easily collapsed on him, though, and he struggled keeping Rajon Rondo in front of him. Threw the ball into defensive coverage often. Grade: C
Joe Johnson: He got open a lot on the weak side. Didn't shoot very well, but got good shots. Grade: B-
Gerald Wallace: No pass is safe when Crash is near the lane. Climbed up on the scorer's table in the first quarter chasing after a loose ball. Later had a nice chasedown block on a dribble-drive. Barring injury, it's hard to imagine him having a "bad" game; he'll miss shots on some nights but the effort is always there. Grade: B
Kris Humphries: *silence* Grade: D
Brook Lopez: Lopez's "rebound attempt percentage" or whatever metric Coach Johnson has him paying attention too was probably better than expected yet again. Lopez scored in the post and got to the line, going back-and-forth with Garnett and Jared Sullinger on multiple occasions. The Celtics played Lopez well in the post on a couple of occasions, doubling him from up-top (his blind side when posting on the right) and freezing him when he started a spin. Did get eaten up by Garnett in one-on-one situations, but that was more a product of Garnett hitting tough shots. Could stand to improve his help defense, though. Grade: B-
Andray Blatche: Yeah, he's cemented his backup 5 role. Grade: C+
MarShon Brooks: Had a couple of nice moves in his first game back -- Shammgod! -- but didn't do much in his time on the floor. Grade: C-
Tyshawn Taylor: Had another decent outing, but he's exhibited a tendency to keep his head down barreling to the basket. Had Joe Johnson open on a defensive rotation at least twice and didn't kick him the ball. Grade: B
Defense: The Celtics did hit a lot of contested shots, but they let Boston get to the rim way too easily and gave up far too many open threes. A discouraging outing, if you believe preseason matters. I withheld giving the Nets an F, but it was close. Grade: D-
The Brooklyn Nets will play their standard starting 5; the Celtics will start Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger, and Kevin Garnett.
MarShon Brooks will see his first preseason minutes, though Coach Avery Johnson says he'll be limited. Jerry Stackhouse is out with knee issues -- Johnson said he'll likely deal with knee issues all season -- while C.J. Watson and Keith Bogans will both sit just to rest tonight.