The Brooklyn Nets have won just two games in 11 attempts this season. They lost back-to-back winnable games over the weekend, and have played two other games that went down to the final minutes. But finally, they were able to put one away.
After Thaddeus Young put the Nets up 90-88 with 1.4 seconds left at the free throw line by charging towards the rim and drawing a foul on a layup, the Nets locked down the Hawks on the ensuing inbounds play with Brook Lopez defending the inbounder and a switch-everything mentality.
Simple, elegant, quick. Thaddeus Young said on the YES Network postgame that the mentality was to “switch everything,” and switch everything they did: Young, Joe Johnson, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all ended up guarding different Hawks than they originally manned up against, and inbounder Thabo Sefolosha had no choice but to throw a loping pass inside the arc to Al Horford, which Young smacked away to end the game.
That’s no small feat. The Hawks employ reigning NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer and multiple three-point shooters: Kyle Korver, Horford, and Paul Millsap were all on the floor (each had already hit two threes on the night). If the Hawks were bang-bang quick enough, Sefolosha could’ve also been a threat to end the game right there.
But the Hawks weren’t able to get any clean looks inside or out in their five seconds, partially because Lopez at 7’2″ towered over the 6’7″ Sefolosha, partially because the Nets played physical defense, and partially because they switched every look with defenders of a similar height.
The Nets head to Charlotte next Wednesday night to take on the Hornets on the second half of a back-to-back.