Before the game, I asked David Blatt about why the Nets have struggled so much at home. So it only makes sense that the Nets would then pull out one of their biggest home wins of the season[note]The Warriors win is the only one that competes[/note] on the same night.
This was a matchup between a Nets team that executed its offense perhaps better than it has all season against a legitimate title contender that seemed to score at moments through sheer force of will. It wasn’t pretty at times, as the Nets fought their own penchant for turnovers and struggles defending pick-and-roll alley-oops with their ability to draw offensive fouls and hit three-pointers. When things clicked into place — mostly around Joe Johnson — it was a beautiful throwback.
He’s struggled to stay in front of point guards this season defensively, but I think he did well maintaining the space between Kyrie Irving and the basket, considering the circumstances — the circumstances being that Kyrie Irving is damn good, and near-impossible to stop in one-on-one situations for even very good defensive point guards.
Some sloppy passes and miscommunication led to Williams turnovers, but he did put through one of his prettier moves in a long time, faking, shaking, and baking Irving and Timofey Mozgov out of their shoes en route to a layup.
That said: in crunch time in the fourth quarter, Williams sat in favor of Jarrett Jack once again.
If Joe Johnson played like this every day they wouldn’t be playing catch-up in the playoff race.
One of his best all-around games in recent memory. Johnson looked healthier than he has in recent weeks from the get-go, getting noticeable lift on two three-pointers in the first quarter and into the lane for shots inside.
He started to get less lift on his outside shot as the game progressed and his production curbed off until that ridiculous 26-footer. But made numerous smart plays overall, particularly once Hollins went small, finding teammates for open looks when the Cavaliers brought double-teams.
Started in place of the injured Thaddeus Young, and struggled to defend Kevin Love’s particular brand of posting & shooting. Struggled with the Cavaliers’ pick-and-roll attack with LeBron James and Tristan Thompson in the fourth quarter, but few backup centers wouldn’t.
Lots of offense early for Lopez, who uses his floater as a crutch these days for his offensive output. With both teams going small near the end of the game, Hollins elected to keep Lopez in against Kevin Love, and Lopez attacked in the post and drew fouls. Kept up his impressive work on the glass.
Left elbow tendinitis didn’t slow down his mid-range game: Jack hit three middle pops in the first half and kept it going in the second, even making some smart plays on both ends as the game wound down.
It’s been clear for some time now that Jack is the point guard Hollins trusts in crunch time, for better or for worse. Tonight, it was for better.
Aggressive early, running in transition and firing clean quick shots.
The telling moment came in the fourth quarter, when J.R. Smith fronted Bogdanovic coming around screens, denying him any look at the ball. He’s a legitimate scorer in the NBA, and defenses are treating him like one.
DEBUT TIME! Opened his Nets career harassing Kevin Love into missing a shot, later hit two 20-footers and a three-pointer, and celebrated teammates hitting three-pointers like a seasoned veteran. I’m all in on the Earl Clark Era.
Sneakily playing well lately. Earning crunch-time minutes for willingness to defend big guys and ability to hit important open shots.