An unfortunate shot in the foot for a Brooklyn Nets team just re-gaining momentum.
The Nets & Celtics played tight in the first half, but the second proved to be doomsday: the Celtics put Brook Lopez & Mason Plumlee in compromising defensive positions, the Nets struggled to make any shots outside of the paint, and the Celtics rolled behind a balanced offensive attack. The Celtics pick-and-rolled the Nets to death, getting easy looks at the rim and six players in double figures.
With a win, the Nets could’ve had an important hold on the playoff race. With the loss, the Nets take a huge step back against a team they’re competing with for the eighth and final spot.
Holy third-quarter Deron Williams fanciness: put Brandon Bass and Jae Crowder in the crossover blender, changing speeds from left-to-right with odd precision.
His ability to do that has never been the issue. With Williams, it’s always been consistency. Upon joining the Nets, his moves on the floor were always there, but he struggled with his jump shot. Other times he’d hit his jump shot, but struggle to get past anybody on the ground. It’s part of why his tenure in Brooklyn has been so maddening: it’s easy to see what he can be, but the moments when it all comes together have been rare.
Was one rebound away from a triple-double, but hard to watch Deron Williams tonight outside of those two possessions and think he was a game-changer.
He hit the first field goal of the game, extending his NBA-best streak of consecutive games with at least one field goal. And that’s just about it.
The Celtics matched up Tyler Zeller on him early, and it just didn’t work for them: Young hit Zeller with a crossover step-back for three and got into the lane for a quick layup. Soon after on a switch, Young spun rookie Marcus Smart into the ground and got an easy layup through Zeller.
But that was about where the good news ended for Young. There were some miscommunications defensively with Young on the floor, particularly in pick-and-rolls; Young either came over to help in situations when he didn’t need to, or didn’t make it clear that he was helping on pick-and-pops and wanted the center (Lopez or Plumlee) staying close to the basket.
Dominated the third quarter offensively to a laughable extent: the Nets would just throw Lopez the ball and watch him fire away with reckless abandon. Lopez racked up 15 easy points in the third, but had difficulty defending the Celtics as they built their lead.
This is the issue with Lopez. He is the team’s most effective scorer, someone who acts as a safety valve when he’s able to get inside and shoot over defenders. But he’s also exploitable in pick-and-roll coverages and struggles defending big men who can shoot from deep like Kelly Olynyk. Without him, they didn’t stand a chance tonight, but with him, they didn’t either.
One last thought: Kind of incredible that in the team’s season-high half for offensive rebounds (14 in the first), Lopez only grabbed one of them.
No perfect game tonight.
1) As soon as Bogdanovic entered the game in the first quarter, the Nets treated him like a focal point, even with the other four starters (sans Markel Brown) on the floor.
2) His passing was fantastic.
3) His shooting, not so much.
Frustrating, not because he doesn’t have the talent to effect positive results, but because he does, and can’t.
Had the same trouble defending Brook Lopez did without the 30-plus points.