The Nets played a much more competitive, in-sync game than they did in Game 1, getting to spots on defense in the paint more quickly, creating more open shots inside and out, and forcing live-ball turnovers early.
But down the stretch in crunch time, the Nets wasted a close game by giving up two corner three-pointers and offensive rebounds to a supercharged Heat squad. After 40 hard-fought minutes, they’ll head back home down 0-2.
I will say this: he set up his teammates well throughout and didn’t slack on the defensive end. But in Game 2 of his first second-round playoff series since joining the Nets, Deron Williams did not score. Not once. Not on a free throw, not on a layup, not on a jumper. Not once.
You can blame the referees for not calling contact on a lot of drives throughout the game, You can point to the Nets’ spread-out offense as a reason why Williams doesn’t get a lot of shots. You can even say sometimes shots miss.
But the Nets are built for the present precisely because of Williams, built to win now to appease him and built around veteran players to ensure he’s not wasting away his prime years in a rebuilding situation. This is when the Nets need Williams to prove he’s not a fit-in player anymore, hell, this is when they just need him to score.
This was the first scoreless playoff game of Williams’s career, and it could not have come at a worse time.
Great offense early — when he’s matched up against the right defender, his shot’s unblockable from within 15 feet, and he used both his hook shot and his jumper effectively in the first. But while he’s a good passer, he’s not a pure facilitator, and he made a few costly, careless mistakes in the third quarter.
Oddly uninvolved in crunch time. Don’t really know what else to say. As Joe as Joe is.
Took his fair share of hits driving to the rim and in his few stints defending LeBron James. Was jobbed a couple of times by bad officiating on his drives, getting no calls on straight shots at the rim. Can’t really blame him for that.
Deflating creakiness. He can still defend in spurts and hit one jumper and another tip-in. But when the Nets try to get him involved down low, it does not end well. He is a shell of his former self, running on pure adrenaline and sweat at this point. It’s sad, really. We may be seeing his last few games.
His utter fearlessness off the bench can be a great thing, like when he drives right past LeBron James on a fast-break for a layup. It can also be a terrible thing, like when he takes a step-back three-pointer with an open Mirza Teletovic, in the midst of setting a playoff record, flanking him on his left.
Set the team’s franchise record for most threes off the bench in a playoff game — in the first half. Set the team’s record for any player early in the second half. Missed a bad shot in crunch time, a step-back three-pointer down 8, but he came to shoot tonight.
Love his effort and energy but when he’s leading the Nets, that’s probably indicative of bad things.