A few scattered notes from Game 4 of Nets-Hawks:
- There’s a sense among Nets players you talk to that this just isn’t a 38-44 team. You can see why they think that, too. They had one of the Eastern Conference’s best records after the All-Star Break, they feature multiple former All-Stars, they have the biggest advantage in the series in Brook Lopez’s scoring ability, and the team just has a different energy with Thaddeus Young over Kevin Garnett. Every underdog blows some amount of smoke about how they think they have a shot, but it doesn’t feel like they’re bloviating about some ethereal, unquantifiable truth. They know they have advantages and they’re exploiting them.
- Deron Williams got all the press yesterday, and deservedly so. But from a numbers standpoint, the most shocking turnaround this postseason has come from Jarrett Jack. Jack had one of the NBA’s worst plus-minus figures in the NBA, and outside of the four or five games he nearly won single-handedly, was a maddening player that took a ton of mid-range jumpers and threw careless passes. But Jack’s been a different player in this series: after an attack-heavy, efficient Game 2, Jack has taken his foot off the gas pedal and become more of a facilitator. He’s no longer dribbling into corner double-teams and firing off bad shots.
Just look at a typical Jack possession from the season:
And here’s Jack in Game 3 against the same trapping corner defense on two straight possessions, with some help from Admiral Ackbar:
Jack told The Brooklyn Game that he hadn’t changed his mindset, only that he’s adjusting to “the temperature of the game.” “I don’t come in saying, ‘oh, I’m gonna pass today,’ or ‘I’m gonna shoot today,’ as I’ve heard some people say before,” Jack said. “You can’t do that. If they leave you open, you gonna shoot it. There’s two people on you, and you’re covered with the situation, you swing the ball, you make the appropriate play based on the situation that’s in front of you.”
For the record: Jarrett Jack’s plus-minus through four games is a ridiculous +47 in 94 minutes, and his net rating of +24.5 per 100 possessinos is the BEST OF ANY PLAYER IN THE PLAYOFFS. The postseason is crazy.
- A note on the pre-game crowd photos: I railed on this for a bit on Twitter, but it bears repeating. Every arena looks empty before the game starts. Every. Single. One. People aren’t sitting in their seats twiddling their thumbs at 6:45 when the action starts at 7:10. They’re getting food, or going to the bathroom, or taking a trip around the arena. In Brooklyn, sometimes they’re on a delayed subway or going through a security line that has fielded a ton of complaints this year.
The whole “ooh, look, the arena is empty before the game!” thing is flat-out disingenuous. Barclays Center has had its fair share of underwhelming crowds, but to adjust reality to the narrative isn’t right. And for the record, as someone who’s been in the arena for all four games: last night’s crowd was among the best I’ve heard at Barclays Center, and louder than either game in Atlanta.
- Lionel Hollins on the last play of regulation, when Deron Williams took a shot with 6.5 seconds left, giving the Hawks a shot to win the game before overtime: “I knew they had a foul to give, and I wanted Deron to go early. We were just gonna slip out and go early, & if they didn’t foul us, bring it back out and just run a play. But he got a good look and it didn’t go in. That was the play that was designed for the foul.”
- Brook Lopez’s offense has changed the series, but think about how many layups and floaters he’s contested in the paint on defense. He’s altered so many inside Hawks shots. The Hawks have struggled to convert in the paint with Lopez in the game all series: he’s contested close to 20 shots per game and allowed just 37.7 percent shooting on those shots, per NBA.com. The Hawks have done a good job bringing Lopez out of the paint defensively, which has given them more offensive rebounding opportunities. But he’s also doing a sound job contesting those shots to create misses in the first place.
- More unsung heroes of the series: “New Role Star Hip Hop” Alan Anderson and Bojan Bogdanovic. The Nets have attacked Korver off screens relentlessly, and the two-headed monster of Anderson & Bogdanovic have hit key three-pointers. If those two can combine to hit more threes than Korver, that’s a win for the Nets.
- Reminder of the schedule: Game 5 is Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. on YES, Game 6 is Friday at 8:00 P.M. on My9. YES will have pre & post-game coverage. Full schedule here.