Nets’ ‘silly mistakes’ can’t continue in Game 2 of series with Celtics

Brooklyn Nets guard Goran Dragic (9) drives the ball against Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) in the second quarter during game one of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

If the Nets hope to even their best of seven series with the Boston Celtics at one then the “silly mistakes,” as Goran Dragic called them, cannot happen again.

Brooklyn by no means played a perfect game in the series opener on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden, but it was the little things that did them in and cost them a big win on enemy soil. The Nets were outrebounded, turned the ball over and fouled a lot.

Yes, Kevin Durant’s shooting woes hurt the team as well, but they were still a point away from winning Tuesday, which makes those little gaffes all that more glaring.

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“We have too many turnovers,” Dragic said. “Definitely the first half we had I think about 13 turnovers. The second half we did a much better job, only four, but we need to stop fouling. I feel like we in the bonus too quick and it’s tough to play defense like that. You put them on the line, but at the end of the day we had our chances even with a bad game.”

The Nets out fouled the Celtics 26-24, which means the margin wasn’t as huge as Dragic seemed to point to, but the rebounding was where Brooklyn needed to be better. Boston outrebounded Brooklyn 43-29 during the opening game of the series, which included a 14-5 advantage along the offensive boards.

Boston’s Al Horford and Daniel Theis, who Bruce Brown thought the Nets could take advantage of, grabbed six of the Celtics’ 14 offensive rebounds and Theis grabbed two of them.

Defensively the Nets didn’t get the boards that they needed either, being outrebounded 29-24 defensively, and being outscored in the paint 56-32.

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“First of all when we just made silly mistakes. We had ball under our basket and nobody was there to … those are easy mistakes,” Dragic explained. “Those are like my kids when they’re playing. We just have to take care of the easy ones. But then we had our chances. We just have to bite down and get a stop and unfortunately, we didn’t.”

With Game 2 on the horizon, after a two-day break, the Nets will need to clean up these issues. Dragic has been the most vocal about the Nets’ defensive lapses since he arrived in Brooklyn in March and he’s well aware of what needs to be done to correct them for Wednesday.

“We just have to support those (Durant and Kyrie Irving), play maybe with more energy, box out, get those rebounds and try to play faster so we can go in the open court and not to see that set defense that Boston was playing,” Dragic explained.