Here’s a roundup of last night’s Nets festivities:
What happened: With Brook Lopez sidelined, the Brooklyn Nets got straight-up throttled in their season opener, trailing 67-41 at halftime and never recovering, losing to the Boston Celtics in Boston 121-105.
Where they stand: The Nets are 0-1, which ties them for the worst record in the NBA. Nowhere to go but up.
That was… An ice-cold shower on an already lukewarm season. The Nets, already armed with average expectations, were confounded by Boston’s unorthodox spread-and-screen offense, giving up eight three-pointers and a whopping 62 points in the paint, and finishing the game with as many assists as turnovers. For one night, Kelly Olynyk looked like Dirk Nowitzki, leading eight Celtics in double figures with 19 points.
Picked, Rolled: The criticism du jour of and by the Nets was their pick-and-roll defense, which allowed the Celtics open season on the rim. Because the Celtics can spread most of their players to the perimeter — including, importantly, starting big men Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk — any help defense near the rim meant open season from three-point range, and if it didn’t come early, Boston’s roll men had easy lanes to the rim.
They’re an inventive, confusing team, reminiscent of the Nets last year; while the Nets inverted post-up players by going down low with their wings, the Celtics inflate the court by setting their bigs 24 feet away.
Garnett called the Celtics “clever” in their offensive schemes, which led to numerous breakdowns in the pick-and-roll.
“Most of them were non-contested,” Hollins noted of Boston’s interior shots. “Once Mas(on Plumlee) got in foul trouble, we didn’t really play big after that, but that wasn’t the problem — not playing big — the problem was we were making so many mistakes in the pick-and-roll and the straight-line penetration really hurt us at that point.”
“Catching the roll guy, we struggled with that,” Plumlee glumly added. “A lot of back cuts.”
Undefeated update: The Nets are still undefeated at home.
Game Grades: Read ’em here. New look, by the way.
Lost herd: “It was like open gate,” Lionel Hollins said about his team’s defense. “All the sheep got out of the gate.”
Coaching Opening: Lionel Hollins spent last season’s opening NBA night at home, before a full season off the sidelines with Sirius XM radio. Not this year. Hollins made his illustrious Brooklyn Nets coaching debut, saying he felt no butterflies or undue nervousness. If only his team felt ready to play.
How long did it take Kevin Garnett to get called for an illegal screen? It took Kevin Garnett 83 seconds to get called for an illegal screen.
Garnett finished the night with 10 points on 5-8 shooting, looking a bit more spry than last season.
My thoughts at the half:
Nets first-half recap http://t.co/wlPnreqFQs
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) October 30, 2014
Flexing: The Nets have ballyhooed about their flex offense throughout the preseason, predicating their offense on ball movement and off-ball screens. But there was an odd stagnation to a fair number of their possessions: once a guard was isolated on one side, the other members of the offense stood around in anticipation of what was next, with only the occasional cut to the basket or v-cut by Bojan Bogdanovic.
Technically… Both Lionel Hollins and Kevin Garnett picked up technical fouls, the former for jawing at the ref, the latter for jawing at Kelly Olynyk. Garnett, the former Celtic, drew “KG! KG! KG!” chants from the crowd. Alan Anderson also got into the mix, proving the A in A-to-Z right in just one game.
Hollins said he didn’t take the technical to motivate his team, but to fight for them. “I was trying to fight for them, but they’ve gotta fight for themselves.”
Weird Math: The Nets out-rebounded the Celtics 39-35 and still lost. Related: the Nets had 20 turnovers. Hard for a team to get rebounds when you’re not putting up shots.
Effort: After the game, Lionel Hollins bemoaned Brooklyn’s lack of second effort. “The game of basketball is about efforts,” Hollins said. “Not effort, but efforts. We’ve got to do it in the game. We do it in practice, but we’ve got to do it in the game.”
The Nets struggled with getting to loose balls all night. Against a younger, more athletic team like Boston, some of that’s to be expected. But they looked listless against a team that dominated the little things.
Caught off guard: “It’s never good to lose like this. But s–t, this s–t opened our eyes up a little bit.” – Deron Williams
Isaiah Austin: The Celtics honored former Baylor star and Nets rookie Cory Jefferson’s former teammate with a presentation, giving him honorary “Celtic for Life” status. Austin was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic mutation that can disrupt the body’s connective tissue, meaning he would be unable to pursue a career in the NBA. A touching moment in Beantown.
— Cory Jefferson (@CoryJay34) October 30, 2014
Across the river: Luckily for the Nets, their cross-town rivals were the only team that played worse on the night: the Knicks trailed by as much as 35 points in a home loss to the Chicago Bulls, dropping it by the final score of 104-80. Carmelo Anthony scored 14 points and the Knicks shot 3-17 from the field. Nets players informed of the score seemed unconcerned.
Next up: The Nets have Thursday off to travel home before they hit the road again to Detroit to take on the Pistons Saturday night. Given their performance inside in Wednesday night’s game, they’ll watch Brook Lopez’s foot with bated breath.