In Saturday night’s win against the Knicks, the Nets were able to go 14-24 from the three point line, obviously the team’s best performance from deep. So how does a team who is 29th in the NBA in terms of 3 point shooting percentage (30.2%) shoot 58.3% against the Knicks? They attacked the basket.
Now, you all know how important I think attacking the basket is. When the Nets’ do so and are aggressive, they either get themselves to the free throw line or get good looks in close at the basket. What doesn’t get talked about though is how attacking the basket opens up things on the outside. The Nets are poor shooters from deep, we know that. However, when they attack the basket, the Nets give their outside shooters better looks that are easier to make. Let’s look at a few plays from Saturday night:
This first play is a transition possession. We have seen Terrence Williams attack the basket the past few games, and the Knicks know that. As Terrence Williams crosses the three point line, Devin Harris’ man drops down to the lane to meet him. Williams uses his vision to spot the wide open Devin Harris who knocks down a big three pointer.
On this one, Keyon Dooling attacks the baseline. Instead of giving up his dribble and trying to force up a lay-up, he keeps his head up looking for a teammate. To me, under the basket is the under-belly of the defense. If you can get there, it forces defenders to focus on the ball rather than their man. Look at the above clip. All 5 Knicks’ defenders have their eyes on Dooling, who has his pick on who to get it to on the outside. Dooling chooses Courtney Lee, who knocks down a three, extending the lead to 16.
Now this might all have happened against a terrible Knicks defense, but the theme is the same. When you force the defense to make decisions or rotate, there is a better chance that they make mistakes. And when they make mistakes, the Nets are going to be able to take advantage.