MIAMI, FL. — Standing at half-court before his team’s shootaround, Nets coach Jason Kidd’s eyes instinctively followed the arc of his team’s jumpshots as he answered questions.
“We gave up too many layups and too many paint touches,” he reaffirmed about his team’s Game 1 107-86 loss, watching a shot swish through as his players warmed up. “So we got to give a better game in Game 2 if we want any chance to win that game.”
His team knew it, too, with a few players speaking briefly before the team’s shootaround, which lasted under an hour.
“Keeping them out of the paint, that’s the big one,” Deron Williams said. “Not allowing as many easy layups. We just had a lot of breakdowns in our defense, things that we haven’t really had happen consistently. We do it maybe once or twice, give up a little run here or there, but when you give up a couple big runs like we gave them… We came back from 20 one time, but it’s hard to do that against a team of this magnitude.”
Game 1 was decided in the paint on both ends, and they’ve got to find better ways to limit Miami’s paint touches.
“We got to be in position, we got to be in the right spots,” Kidd added. “They were aggressive by getting the ball in the paint and finishing so we got to be able to take care of that.”
The Heat scored 52 points in the paint against the Nets, a number high enough for Joe Johnson to lose track of just how many, and they made a fair amount of shots outside of the paint came after getting the ball inside and confusing Brooklyn’s defense. “Just communicate,” Johnson theorized as the fix. “Help each other out defensively, live with them shooting jumpshots, but we can’t give up layups, man.”
“It’s something we’re trying to get to, they’re trying to get to,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of his team’s advantage in the paint. “Our attacks are a little bit unconventional in terms of when you’re talking about a power paint game, we do it in different ways, but they know what our ways are, so they’re going to be even more committed to keep us out of that paint. That’s why (we’re) doing things with an engine and moving that ball. It’s not easy to get anything on the strong side in the playoffs. You’re only dealing with very good defensive teams.”
The Nets only scored 86 points in a glacially-paced game, about eight possessions slower than their regular season pace, ranking sixth-slowest in the NBA. They hit 10 of 24 three-point attempts, better than their season average. But Miami’s athletic and unorthodox, and just good enough won’t win games.
The Nets and Heat tip off at 7 P.M. for Game 2, and despite his team’s blowout victory, Spoelstra refuses to take the Nets lightly. “The series can change just like that,” he pointed out, snapping his fingers for emphasis.