7 To Watch In Game 7:
The Pivotal Point Guard Battle

Deron Williams, Klye Lowry
1. The Head of the Snake.

1. The Head of the Snake.
The Head of the Snake.

After the Nets mounted their ridiculous 26-point comeback in the second half of Game 5, tying the game at 101 in crunch time, Kyle Lowry fired back with seven quick points — two free throws, a three-pointer, and a crossover into a floater that left Deron Williams in the dust.

via @HPbasketball
via @HPbasketball

Williams had a shot at redemption in that game, with an open look for three with the Nets down two and the game on the line. But the chance never came, as Andray Blatche whipped a pass way over Williams’s head for a backcourt violation. But he would fire back in Game 6, helping limit Kyle Lowry to just 4-16 shooting and putting on a virtuoso 22-point performance in an easy Nets win.

For all the talk about secondary players and schemes, this matchup has by and large come down to the point guard battle, Before the series, we talked about the potential excitement this matchup could bring, and both Kyle Lowry and Deron Williams have delivered on their promise. Both have been great, both have been awful, both have been hobbled, and both swung games in this series with their crunch-time performance.

Lowry is the superior talent, and he was snubbed of a rightful All-Star appearance with the season he’s had in Toronto. He’s the catalyst for their offense and a deadly quick scorer with deep range on his shot. But Williams has shown flashes of offensive greatness, shaking off his own ankle issues to put up perhaps his best game yet with the Nets facing elimination on Game 6.

The Nets have won all three games that Williams scored 20 or more points, and lost all three when he scored 15 or fewer. That’s an admittedly simplistic way to look at it, but it’s also a testament to Williams’s aggressiveness (which is the team’s favorite word in this series), and how his shotmaking changes the team’s chances dramatically.

After he came through in Game 6, tonight marks another judgment day for the up-and-down Williams. How he responds could not only make or break this series, but the entire process that started with the Nets acquiring him in 2011 and shortening their window with each move since.