It was ugly, and it was a loss. But at least it was only preseason. The Brooklyn Nets fell to 1-3 in preseason play after falling to the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center, 109-105, in the first of just two televised preseason games for the franchise.
Behind 12 quick first-quarter points from Amir Johnson — including two wide open three-pointers after Brook Lopez dropped low in help defense — the Celtics took a 28-21 lead and never quite looked back, falling further behind in the fourth quarter when Lionel Hollins loosened the rotation to include guys on training camp deals.
But the end-of-bench lineup made an impact against Boston’s end-of-bench lineup. The Nets cut an 18-point lead to five with under 30 seconds remaining behind some nice plays from Bojan Bogdanovic, Justin Harper, and Dahntay Jones, but couldn’t close the gap any further until Harper hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to mark the final score.
The team has just two preseason games remaining: Sunday afternoon against the 76ers at Barclays Center, and Monday night against these Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
Quick reactions to the loss:
- Other than starting Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington, Hollins played a regular season-esque rotation through the first three quarters: Larkin, Johnson, Young, and Lopez all played at least 25 of the first 36 minutes.
- The Nets’ issues still come down to defense. Celtics are a team with the ability to do something I refer to as “inverted spacing,” which is a fancy way of saying that their bigs can shoot threes and their guards can work inside. The former did a significant amount of damage Wednesday night, with big men Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, and Jonas Jerebko combining to shoot 6-10 from deep. The Celtics as a whole connected on 13 of 26 threes, while the Nets shot just 7 for 22 from beyond the arc. It’s a look the Nets have struggled to defend against in the Brooklyn era, and though there’s a lot of season (hell, a lot of preseason) left, it doesn’t look like much has changed.
- Jarrett Jack left after just seven minutes of court action after barreling into Jerebko and earning a prompt ejection.
- Thaddeus Young led the team with 19 points on 9-17 shooting, adding eight rebounds. Young feasted on a steady diet of post-ups, using his quickness to get to the other side of the basket for a couple of pretty reverse layups.
- Lopez had one really nice offensive play — a side pick-and-roll with Sergey Karasev that ended with an emphatic dunk in the third quarter — but was largely quiet otherwise. He’s gotten a lot of post-up looks throughout preseason, but few pick-and-rolls, which was his bread-and-butter last season. He finished with 12 points on just 2-for-6 shooting, converting eight of 10 free throw attempts.
- You saw Lopez muss Sullinger’s mohawk in the third quarter too, right?