Coaches Dubin, Kharpertian Discuss Cross Bridge Battle

P.J. Carlesmo, Reggie Evans
Devin’s assistant P.J. Carlesimo. (AP)
Devin’s assistant P.J. Carlesimo. (Raya Lim)

Four games into the Cross Bridge Battle and we’re chock full of interesting storylines: the resurgence of J.R. Smith and Gerald Wallace, the highlight reel that is Deron Williams, the steady production of Joe Johnson and the steady but not game-changing production of Carmelo Anthony, the silence that is Raymond Felton, the surge of success born from the Blatche-Lopez frontcourt, and, of course, the virtuality of it all.

So with everything in mind, Coaches Jared Dubin and Devin Kharpertian sat down to talk about their series.

Note: this conversation started with me shooting a message to Jared titled “wanna chat it up about how I’m kicking your ass?” so there’s your opening context.

Coach Dubin: Rigged. Rigged, I say!

Coach Kharpertian: If by “rigged” you mean “superbly adjusted by Brooklyn’s preeminent blogcoach,” then yes, absolutely.

But now you’re staring down the same barrel the Nets stared down in Round 1 of the real playoffs — down 3-1 with two more games at home. Scared? Confident? Confused? Scrambling? Ready to be a Brooklyn Nets fan?

Coach Dubin: In order: No. Yes. Yes. Kind of. That’s a clown question, bro.

I think a major problem for me here is that I don’t know how to work the 2K settings to my advantage. The pace is wayyyyy too fast for my liking. Teams are averaging 90+ shots per game. That’s not good for such an old team. Also, Carmelo is taking like 15-18 shots a game, which I’m totally fine with, but I don’t think he should be shooting less often than both JR and Shumpert.

I’m assuming you’re satisfied with the results so far, but is there anything about the sim format that’s not working for you?

Coach Kharpertian: I’m satisfied and smiling, but it’s been a little strange for me, too. I’m with you on the pace problem. The Nets aren’t a run-and-gun team either. I don’t know what you’re telling the Knicks but I’m telling the Nets to slow it down and it’s just not doing that. I guess video games play at a breakneck pace by design, but it’s unnerving.

As far as strategy goes, we’re only *kind of* playing my gameplan, which may be why we’re beating you. I’m telling my guys to bomb away with three-pointers, and we’re shooting significantly less than you guys and less than I’d like. I’m also trying to get Lopez looks in the post but he’s barely doing anything down there — Gerald is getting more shots than him in every game and that’s not by design (though it worked for us in the first two games).

But certainly, I’m feeling good. My prediction for Nets in 6 is looking good, though it’d certainly be nice and sweet if we took Game 5 tomorrow and ended your hopes and dreams once and for all.

But I see you’re confident. Down 3-1, why so?

Coach Dubin: Well, I’m confident because I believe pretty strongly that I have the better team. I just have to figure out how to actually use my advantages within a 2K setting. It seems like we’re working the Shumpert-Blatche cross match pretty heavily, which I’m totally fine with, but I don’t want my virtual team to lose sight of Melo and the advantages he creates all over the court. Virtual Raymond Felton is doing a nice job assists-wise, but I’d like him to distribute those slightly differently in Games 5, 6 and 7.

I’m getting hammered on the boards, which isn’t a surprise in 2K given the small lineup I’m playing, but 2K doesn’t seem to realize that the Knicks were a top-4 defensive rebounding team this season, even while playing small for nearly the entire season. Either way, I should not be letting Andray Blatche average double-digit boards. Melo needs to pick his effort up there.

I guess what I’m taking away from this most is that 2K sims do not really accurately reflect life (and not just because of the result). The sims take all sorts of computer inputs and characteristics, but I’m not sure how it accounts for how a particular group functions with each other, if that makes sense. I’m thinking they need to add lineup characteristics to the next game, rather than just player characteristics.

Coach Kharpertian: Ah, I see you’re taking the “it’s not me, it’s the game” route. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, Jared. Wait, that doesn’t make sense. Don’t hate the game, hate the player, Jared. Wait. I’m confused. Don’t hate me. HATE THAT I’M BEATING YOU. FEEL THE HATE BURN THROUGH YOUR SOUL.

I’m not so sure you have the better team, either. Melo is the best player in the series, sure, but D-Will has a significant advantage over Felton, who’s shooting as I’d expect Felton to. I like Shumpert and all, but I’d take a non-fasciitis Joe Johnson over him in this series. Chandler’s a better defender and finisher but Lopez had the best season of his career this year, and Dray is the oddest success story in the NBA. I know most people think of Dray as the bumbling idiot that got himself thrown out of Washington in disgrace, but no other player in the league averaged 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals per 36 minutes, AND he shot over 50% from the floor. Defense optional, sure, but him getting double-digit boards in starter’s minutes (especially next to Lopez and not Evans The Gobbler) is no surprise.

Since it’s the playoffs, I’m stretching out the minutes of my best players, and with the bench players (mostly) planted there, we’re taking advantage. Gerald Wallace obeying my orders to never shoot midrange jumpers has also helped.

That’s not to say the 2K engine is perfect. I agree with you about lineup characteristics — I’ve said it before, but if I could tell 2K how to run the D-Will/Bogans/Johnson/Blatche/Lopez lineup, I’d probably be playing Bogans more. It’s also unnerving how many more shots the guards get than the bigs. I think that’s just a function of how 2K works, but it’s something they’ll need to fix.

But all in all, I think I’m winning because the Nets are better under my tutelage and I’m confident in a lot of the decisions I’ve made. My original plan (spilling state secrets here) was to let J.R. shoot the Knicks out of every game by giving him ample space to shoot, but as you saw in the first two games, that backfired. (Game 4 he returned to standard Crazy J.R. form, unfortunately, so that concerns me a bit.) I’m also proud of how well Brook is playing Tyson Chandler in this series — Chandler’s hitting most of his looks, but you’re not seeing him get many attempts (even considering how bigs get less attempts in the game). And, of course, Raymond Felton looks like a man possessed by sadness.

But you’ve still got two home games left — if you’re lucky enough to get past one. Any final words?

Coach Dubin: Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t lose.

Coach Kharpertian: Yes we can.