Posted on: September 29th, 2014 by Jaymz Clements Comments

 

Projected record: 38-44 (10th in East)

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Paul George

Paul George's leg injury was a big blow to the Pacers' chances. (AP)

Head coach: Frank Vogel
2013-14 record: 56-26
2013-14 ORtg: 101.5 (22nd)
2013-14 DRtg: 96.7 (1st)
Players in: C.J. Miles, Arinze Onuaku, Chris Singleton, Damjan Rudez, Rodney Stuckey, Shayne Whittington
Players out: Rasual Butler, Andrew Bynum, C.J. Fair, Paul George (injury), Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner
Projected Starting Lineup: George Hill, C.J. Miles, Chris Copeland, David West, Roy Hibbert

That sound? Oh, that’s just Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard softly crying in his office, adding the date of the 2015-16 NBA Draft Lottery draw to his Yahoo Calendar.

The other sound? Burning, as Larry Bird stared so long and hard at his desk that it lit itself on fire.
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Lance Stephenson, Joe Johnson

Lance Stephenson led the Indiana Pacers past Brooklyn in a 103-86 laugher. (AP)

At the beginning of the season, the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets had one common goal: win a championship. The aging Nets were "all in" for this season; the Pacers ready to avenge their Game 7 loss to the eventual champion Miami Heat in last season's playoffs by coming back stronger than ever with a revamped bench and the return of Danny Granger.

Monday's matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers featured two teams who had one common goal in October.

After a putrid 103-86 loss for the Nets, That's about where the similarities end.

Though Indiana is a clear contender this season, their future looks as bright as any team in the league. Their core appears to be set for the foreseeable future with draft picks and cap space to work with along the way. Paul George has blossomed into a two-way superstar, and he delivered another elite performance tonight, with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists on 10-19 shooting.

Brooklyn's season is quickly entering the stage where even a playoff birth is highly doubtful. You heard it right: a team which came into the season with championship goals and the highest payroll in league history is in danger of missing the playoffs 27 games into the season. The Nets are now 9-18, without their All-Star center for the rest of the season, and on the verge of desperation.

"It's getting very close to just accepting losing," Kidd said in his post-game press conference after showing up roughly 20 minutes late. "We're kind of getting comfortable with losing. We've got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in? Most of the time right now, we do."

Kidd's star point guard Deron Williams understood Kidd's meaning, but disagreed.

"I'm not," Williams said. "I'm not comfortable with losing. It's not fun. It's not fun. Not only when we're losing during the game, but when you go home, sitting there thinking about it."

The game started out well for Brooklyn: they opened by making seven of their first eleven shots. There was a quick alley-oop and some fast break points as the Nets rushed out to an 8-2 lead. Brook Lopez's absence didn’t seem to hinder a Nets offense that had ranked 3rd in the NBA in offensive efficiency since the return of Deron Williams on December 10th.

The Pacers then turned up their defensive energy, showing why many believe they're the best team in the NBA. The Nets -- without Lopez, their go-to scorer -- had no answers.

Brooklyn proceeded to miss 22 of their next 29 shots, including ten field goal attempts at the end of the first half before Joe Johnson's buzzer-beating floater. The game, a six-point Pacer lead at the half, would only get worse.

The typical third-quarter struggles reared their ugly head once again as the Nets were outscored 30-19 in that period. The Pacers suffocated the paint and dominated the glass with towering big men Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi, and the Nets had no post presence to fight back.

The Nets finished the game shooting 38.2 percent from the field, 6 for 26 from three-point range, and the worst game of Paul Pierce's career. Pierce finished 0 for 7 from the field, recording his first scoreless game since his rookie season, and was ejected in the third quarter following a flagrant-2 foul.

Pierce and Kevin Garnett did not speak with the media following the game.

Head coach Jason Kidd has seemingly chosen his starting lineup for the foreseeable future, with Mirza Teletovic -- not Andray Blatche -- replacing Lopez in the Nets' frontcourt.

(See what other lineups the Nets can use here.)

It's unclear whether that alignment is the long-term solution for the Nets, and tonight's test against the league's best defense won't give you that answer.

All the Nets can do is continue to play, gain chemistry with the guys they have and hope that at some point, the overload of talent will mesh and become the group they envisioned it would be before the season began.

It's unclear where management and ownership will go from here: do they blow it all up, or do they stick with what they have to try and win the historically awful Atlantic Division? 

Tonight's game would indicate that their one-time roll of the dice to compete for a title will have failed miserably.

Sure, the Nets will be able to sneak their way past teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic with the talent they already have, but Monday's game showed us why Lopez's injury has ended hope of a Nets title, in what was supposed to be a "one-year window."

But reality's starting to set in: their expensive first-class flight to an NBA championship may never get off the runway.

Additional reporting by Devin Kharpertian

 

Michael Carter-Williams, Mirza Teletovic

Mirza Teletovic (AP)

The 9-17 Brooklyn Nets will play their first game after losing All-Star center Brook Lopez for the season to a foot injury, and it's a doozy: they play the Eastern Conference-leading 22-5 Indiana Pacers, who come into tonight fully healthy and boasting the league's top defense.

Injury report: Jason Terry (knee) will play for the first time since November 20th. Andrei Kirilenko will sit, and according to pre-game reports is targeting a Wednesday or Friday return. Brook Lopez is out for the season with a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

Starting Lineup: Deron Williams, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Mirza Teletovic, Kevin Garnett.

Deep threats: The Nets inserted Teletovic into the starting lineup to replace Lopez with shooting in mind: Johnson (42.9 percent), Teletovic (41.4), Williams (38.8), and Anderson (37.4) are the team's top four three-point shooters this season. Combined, those four are shooting 40.4 percent from three-point range.

Pacers D? The Pacers boast the best defense in the league, but they do have one weakness that the Nets can exploit. The last time these two teams played, they did -- but the Pacers just exploited it better.

Deep blech: Conversely, the Nets are allowing opponents to shoot 40.1 percent from deep on the season, worst in the NBA.

When & Where: 7:30 P.M. EST, Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Watch: YES Network
Listen: CBS WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM

 

This may look like just another play: Lance Stephenson misses a shot, and the Nets corral the rebound. But what's involved in this play defensively is so much more, and it's one of the major changes the Nets have made heading into this season.
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It wasn't a guarantee that Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson was getting the ball out of the timeout, but it was damn near close.
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Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson and the Indiana Pacers quieted Brooklyn last night. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets had a real shot at beating the undefeated Indiana Pacers Saturday night, playing an effective offensive gameplan with their starters in the lineup, but a few costly errors swung the game in Indiana's favor.
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Paul George, Andray Blatche, Alan Anderson

Paul George led the Indiana Pacers to victory over the Brooklyn Nets. (AP)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Well after Saturday night's game, Kevin Garnett sat at his locker, composed, ready to speak with roughly a dozen media members. It was a unique sight in this young season: in every home game thus far, Garnett has enjoyed a seat at the podium moments after the game, beads of sweat still dripping from his scalp.

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How to watch and listen to tonight's game between the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets:
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Can the Brooklyn Nets crack the Indiana Pacers' top-flight defense? Here's one way it could work. (AP)

Can the Brooklyn Nets crack the Indiana Pacers' top-flight defense? Here's one way it could work. (AP)

The Indiana Pacers boast, without question, the league's top defense. They led the league in defensive ratingl last season, kept all their major pieces, and in their first six games -- all wins -- they've allowed a ridiculous 87.5 points per 100 possessions, by far the best in the league. Their anchor, Roy Hibbert, blocks a league-leading 4.7 shots per game, and the team hasn't allowed more than 91 points to any opponent this season.

But, like any team in the NBA, they're not perfect. They've got very small, exploitable cracks in their armor, and there's one that the Nets have the ability to exploit.
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Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez

Roy Hibbert & the undefeated Indiana Pacers are in Brooklyn tonight. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets, after an ugly overtime loss Friday night at the hands of the Washington Wizards, don't have much time to dwell; they take on the Indiana Pacers at home tonight at 7:30 P.M. The Pacers are the only undefeated team left in the NBA at 6-0, and they've done it with absolutely swallowing defense, leading the NBA by allowing a minsicule 87.5 points per 100 possessions. (To compare, the Nets -- around the middle of the pack -- allow 101.2 points per 100 possessions.)

To get an idea of just how good this undefeated Pacers team is, I spoke with Jared Wade, respected showrunner of 8 Points, 9 Seconds, an Indiana Pacers blog and one of the best team blogs on the internet.

Onward:

TBG: The Pacers have a defensive rating so far ahead of the pack it looks like they're defending college teams. Roy Hibbert's averaging almost five blocks per game and opponents have shot 27% against their starting 5. How sustainable is their defense, and how good is it really?
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Can the Nets win a ring?

Posted on: October 30th, 2013 by Max Weisberg Comments

 

 

1) Indiana closing it out. After splitting the two games in New York and then sweeping the two-game home stretch in Indiana, the Indiana Pacers hold a commanding 3-1 lead on the New York Knicks and are one more road victory away from guaranteeing a spot against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Outside of a dominating 105-79 victory over the Pacers in Game 2, the Knicks have looked exceedingly vulnerable, a chilling contrast from their record-setting start to the season -- fewer three-pointers, Carmelo Anthony at small forward instead of power forward, and a lot of one-on-one offense. In Game 4, the Knicks shot just 35.6% from the field, and 61 of their 87 field goal attempts came from three players (Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton). If the Knicks continue their freakish stagnancy, they won't last beyond tonight.

2) Golden State staying alive. This is a personal choice. I'm a big fan of the Golden State Warriors and want to see them survive. They're down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs, but this is their last stand at home to force a Game 7. Earlier in the playoffs, Zach Lowe of Grantland called the Warriors' new offense -- particularly, Stephen Curry's new role thanks to the absence of David Lee -- "a glitch in the program." There's few things I enjoy more than watching a shooter dismantle a team from afar. Here's hoping Stephen Curry can do that tonight.

3) Golden State's Backcourt. On the heels of my gushing over Curry, I'd be remiss not to mention his partner in crime, Klay Thompson, whose production has plummeted since his 34-point, 14-rebound career night in Game 2 -- 17 points in Game 3, 10 points in Game 4, and just 4 in Game 5. The Warriors will need another great night from Thompson along with Curry to extend the Warriors' season to Game 7 -- will they get it?