Jim Spanarkel On Nets-Hawks: Adjustments, Deron Williams, & Brooklyn’s Chances

Jim Spanarkel

Jim Spanarkel
Jim Spanarkel
Brooklyn Nets color commentator Jim Spanarkel, a former NBA player and Duke All-American, has been a Nets analyst for over 20 years, and he’s had a courtside view of the past three Nets-Hawks playoff games. The Brooklyn Game caught up with Spanarkel Thursday for his thoughts on the series.

Game 6 will take place at Barclays Center at 8:00 P.M. EDT, and will be broadcast locally on My9. Full Nets playoff schedule here.

TBG: The Nets had a real shot to win down the stretch in Game 5, as they have in all the games in Atlanta thus far. What did you see from Atlanta that allowed them to close it out, and how do the Nets need to counter it?

Spanarkel: The first thing that I noticed was the fact that the Hawks played pretty well in the last three minutes of that game. I thought that Jeff Teague played well, I thought he made very good decisions against the Nets, both on his own making a couple drives to the basket, and then driving to the basket and setting up his shooters like Al Horford. So I don’t know so much if it was the Nets really losing the game or fumbling it away. I just think they ran into a team that played pretty well. They played like a 60-win team in the regular season on their home floor, and played pretty well in the last three minutes.

On the other side, I think with the Nets, with that said, they had an opportunity to be in the game at the end. You know, a couple of missed shots here and there, a turnover in untimely fashion, it goes the other way on them. But I think overall, coming into Friday night’s game, the Nets have to still be positive. They haven’t lost on their home floor yet, and I think they can come in here and put together a good show on Friday night, and get a win and go back to Atlanta and roll the dice again.

TBG: What needs to change in Game 6 for the Nets?

Spanarkel: One of the things that I saw comparatively between Game 5 and what they’d have to adjust in Game 6 is that Brook Lopez has been getting some touches away from the basket. He got 13 shots last night; ideally, I’d like to see him take 13 shots, but I think what I would focus on doing is making sure that Brook tried to catch the basketball five feet from the basket, rather than seven or eight, and not have him fall away on some of his shots. Not to pinpoint Brook as the only problem, but I think that would be where I would start.

I think what you’re going to see tomorrow with the Nets making adjustments — I think if Alan Anderson and Jarrett Jack continue to play well as they have in Wednesday’s game, I think Lionel Hollins is right in basically saying, “whoever’s playing well, whoever’s head is into the game, I’m going with them.” Because as we know, you lose Friday night and you go home.

I think what you’ll see there is the rotations. Lionel Hollins will make judgments in-game, which I think he’s been doing a very good job of, and just leave guys on the floor. Because if you lose, you have the whole summer to recuperate, but if you’re playing well, and hard, and intensely, I think you’re gonna be there, and he’s gonna put you in the game. So I would look for that.

And once again, I think it’s the guard play on Jeff Teague. Defensively, I think Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack, whoever’s guarding Teague has to really concentrate on keeping him out of the middle of the floor.

TBG: Speaking of Deron Williams, where do you think his head’s at? Can we expect him to put up another great performance like Game 4? What does he have to do to succeed?

Spanarkel: It’s unfair for me to get inside his head and comment on how he’s feeling mentally. I’m sure he’s banged up just like everybody else who’s playing, so that might be an equalizer, because guys are all banged up and sore.

I just think what I would like to see out of Deron Williams, and I think the coaching staff would agree, I don’t think you need — look, if Deron Williams can get 35 points, then you ride it, whoever can get the 35 for you, you ride it — but I’m not anticipating him to come back with a night like that.

I think if you can get Deron Williams to do what he did Wednesday night: six rebounds, six assists, two turnovers in only 32 minutes. He was 2-for-8. Obviously, you’d like that to be better. If he could go 5-for-12, something like that, and be aggressive with the basketball, make good plays even though he might be missing shots, I think that gives them a leg up going into the game. If his mental approach is there. Obviously he’s playing hard, but if he gets some good results early, I think that can only help from a positive standpoint for both him individually and the team collectively.

TBG: What do you think the Nets’ chances are in Game 6, and if they pull it out, in 7?

Spanarkel: I think in Game 6 there’s a real chance. I don’t like to really predict this that or the other thing, but I think there’s a great chance the Nets can bounce back just like they have in first two games on their come court. If they can play well, and play competitive, they can win.

Going into Atlanta for Game 7, you have to get out to a good start. If the Nets get into a hole and start to second-guess themselves, that’s a problem. If they can do the opposite, make their shots and spread the ball, they can get the Hawks to second-guess themselves.

If they can do that in Game 6, I think they can do well Friday night and win that game. Then the same can be applied on Sunday: if they can get off to a good start on the road in Atlanta, a confident start, maybe get the #1 seed second-guessing themselves, then they can go out there and they can steal game 7.