The Celtics started yesterday's game by just slapping the Nets in the mouth. The Nets looked real sloppy on offense and very weak on defense, leading to a 12-2 lead for the Celtics. Kiki was forced to call a timeout, and it looked the Nets weren't going to be able to put a full game together. Something funny happened after the timeout though, the Nets actually fought back, and they did it at the line. I have been harping about how important it is to get to the foul line all year, and the reason is because getting to the line helps drags the Nets out of cold spells. The Nets struggled from the field early on, but they were able to get their first 6 points at the line (The Nets shot 41 foul shots for the game). By that time, it seemed like the Nets finally settled down, and they were able to claw their way back into the game and end the first quarter with a 2 point lead. They would never look back. The best part is that it seems the Nets finally get how important getting to the foul line is, as everyone YES showed in their postgame interviews talked about attacking and being aggressive.
There were a ton of great individual performances for the Nets yesterday (Devin, Courtney, CDR, Hump), but in my opinion the most impressive performance came from Brook Lopez. Brook showed everything that makes him the great player that he is. Brook might not have the best lateral movement for a big man, but I think he runs the floor with the best of them. He just puts his head down, sprints right into the paint and puts himself in position to get easy buckets:
But where Brook really showed out was in the post. Now, Kendrick Perkins is a fantastic defender. He is physical, he positions himself well, and he has pretty good reaction speed. Brook Lopez treated him like a little kid yesterday, absolutely dominating him:
Brook Lopez has the size and ability to do this every time out. His problem is that he tends to rush things when he makes his catch. Yesterday Brook was patient, surveying the situation before making his move. If the double came, he didn't force it, he just found the open teammate. My favorite clip is Brook's spin move towards the baseline, one that is starting to be his go to move (with good reason).
Perkins tried to be physical and upset Brook (Coach Rivers said that the strategy going in was to try and frustrate him), but he stayed cool under pressure (which is something that he struggles to do). Even Kevin Garnett couldn't get Brook going. As the buzzer for the first half sounded, the ball ended up in Brook's hands so he flung it at the rim. KG caught the shot attempt (which happens all the time), but for some reason KG decided to scream at something at Brook. Brook just shrugged his shoulders and laughed:
Some more thoughts after the jump:
- We talked about how important getting to the line is, but another factor of attacking is that you accumulate fouls on the opposing teams best players. Case in point, Rajon Rondo was killing the Nets early but he picked up two quick fouls. Nate Robinson (who isn't a point guard) replaced him. How important was this? Check out the plus/minus. Rondo's was +6 and Robinson's was -19.
- If the Celtics would have pulled this game out, the hero would have been Marqius Daniels. His size gave the Nets guards so much trouble he was able to get some key offensive rebounds and score in the lane at will (16 points on 8-9 shooting). Daniels was saddled with foul trouble too.
- How scared were you when Ray Allen let that three go when they were down 6? I almost peed myself.
- CDR deserves a lot of credit. With Trenton Hassell struggling and Jarvis Hayes still out, CDR saw 27 minutes and though he only had 4 points, he did a great job on Ray Allen after Courtney Lee went to the locker room with an ankle injury.
- Speaking of Courtney Lee, before he hurt his ankle he was playing fantastic finally putting together two complete games back-to-back. Figures he hurts his ankle as soon as he starts showing glimpses of consistency.