Category Archives: Brooklyn Nets

deron williams

a good week for the Brooklyn Nets

March 10

After a crummy stretch it has been a good week in Brooklyn. Not only have the Nets won three in a row (pretty convincingly, I might add; average margin of 17 points) and D-Will had a historic game, but the Pacer, Bulls and Celtics lost Sunday, Hawks have lost two in a row, and the Knicks are hurting (lost Amar’e for the remainder of the regular season while Melo is also dealing with an injury).

The defense has been good all year, but has really stepped up recently, holding opponents to an average of 86 points over the last seven games. And for the offense where turnovers have been one of the biggest issues, after averaging 21 turnovers in four games, the Nets have had just 9 and 11 in their last two contests (and 4 of those in the last game were committed by the backup center). The third quarter has been Brooklyn’s bugaboo, but they have dominated it in their three recent wins. Those three games last week were to the Bobcats, Wizards and at the Hawks, not exactly Murderer’s Row; but a road win over a playoff team and another win against a Wizards’ team that stuck it to the Nets a couple weeks ago are still good wins.

After a poor first half, Deron Williams has been a renewed player since sitting out a couple games around the All-Star break. He is scoring 23.1 points a game (6.4 more than before) and is shooting 47% from the floor (up from 41%). He had one of the best games of his career this week, shooting the lights out against the Wizards (nine of his eleven three pointers in the first half, including nailing his first eight) and looks much more comfortable around the court.

Kris Humphries signed a $24M/2 year deal in the offseason. He is now not only out of the starting lineup but out of the bench rotation as well. Even though he is totally healthy he has not even been on the court the last three games, which have all been blowouts. (Even Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia are getting minutes.) That makes Hump, unquestionably, the most overpaid player in the NBA. And to think Brooklyn had a chance to trade him before the deadline and didn’t…

The other player struggling mightily this season is Gerald Wallace. Offensively there are few players that have been more… offensive. On the season Crash is making just 30.1% of his jump shots, 48.6% of his layups (layups!) and 63.9% of his free throws. And in the second half he is a dismal 37.8% from the field.

There are still issues at power forward. Humphries is not playing and Gerald Wallace doesn’t help much. Reggie Evans is among the best rebounders in the NBA but also a liability on offense (missed 11 free throws on Friday). P.J. Carlesimo is giving Mirza Teletovic an opportunity to play more (58 minutes the last three games) but scored just 11 points last week. If he doesn’t pick it up then we may be seeing more Humphries back on the court.

With 19 games left the Nets are in good shape. Their next four are very winnable: @Sixers, Hornets, Hawks, @Pistons, and if they are able to win those they will be 41-26. But that is followed by their toughest stretch of the season, seven straight on the road (eight counting the Pistons) including games against the Mavs, Clippers, Blazers, Nuggets and Jazz. The Nets are taking advantage of this soft spot late in the season and should use it to get them ready for the playoffs, with those challenging games out West as primers.

I want to see more continued control of the basketball and some improvement by either Mirza or Humphries. But I like what I’m seeing out of Deron Williams. Considering their .333 winning percentage a year ago, a #3 playoff seed would be quite an improvement and a good spring into next season.

pj carlesimo

what’s wrong with the Nets?

March 4

The Nets are in another one of their slumps, the third of the season (the other two both in December). Since winning four in a row around the All-Star Break they have lost four out of five and done so in spectacular fashion.

Four main issues have killed the Nets this year.

1) Turnovers. Nets throw the ball all over the court. D-Will is doing it a lot, but he’s the point guard who has the ball all the time anyway, so I can excuse it some (your NBA turnover leaders are Holiday, Rondo, Wall, Harden, Kobe, Westbrook, Durant and Irving; what does that say?). Especially lately he has been incredibly sloppy. With a chance to tie against the Grizzlies last week he threw the ball away with 10 seconds left. But as for the others, what excuse do Reggie Evans and Gerald Wallace have? It is maddening to watch the games because those two in particular are notorious at dumb turnovers. Nets had 18 turnovers against the Grizzlies, 20 against the Mavericks, and 21 against the Bulls. In fact, the Nets have had 20+ turnovers six times this season. There’s no excuse for that.

2) Cold streaks. Brooklyn has had about three games this year where they played well for 48 minutes. Most often they will do well for about 38 and then completely shut down for the better part of a quarter (usually the third). Against the Rockets, a two-point deficit grew to 17. Nets led the Grizzlies by five two minutes left and the Grizzlies scored the games’ last nine points. The Mavericks outscored them by 15 in the third quarter. Nets were leading Chicago in the second quarter until the Bulls went on a 19-0 run into the third where the Nets remained scoreless for seven minutes.

This season the Nets have been outscored by ten or more in 30 different quarters (13 of which were the third). Think about that; in a 12-minute period they’ve completely gone in the tank 30 times. The reasons, besides Turnover City, are…

- Terrible shot selection. When things start going wrong, D-Will, JJ, Bogans, Watson, Stackhouse and Teletovic start chucking up three-pointers every possession instead of moving the ball around to get good high percentage shots.

- No offensive movement. One of the biggest gripes with Avery Johnson’s coaching was the isolation-heavy offense that led to a last-second contested heave as the shot clock expired. That has been creeping back. Consider this: the Nets are tied for 28th in the number of shots per game. The other two at the bottom are the Thunder and Heat. But those two teams are in the top three in field goal percentage and three-point shot percentage. So in reality, the Nets take the fewest shots and don’t get good looks when they do.

- They don’t use free throws to get out of droughts. One of the things I admire most about Dirk Nowitzki is how, even when he is ice-cold shooting, he still demands the ball, gets into the paint, draws fouls and hits the freebies. The Nets don’t do that. Gerald Wallace is shooting 63% from the free throw line, 17 points lower than a season ago. Reggie Evans is making exactly half of his (45% in Nets losses).

3) Powerless forwards. Kris Humphries got a new $24M/2 year contract last offseason and he’s now third on the depth chart at power forward. Hump is averaging just 5.5 points a game this season, including seven total in his last six games (62 minutes). Reggie Evans is a rebound machine but is a complete nonfactor on offense. Over the last three games (61 minutes) Evans has not registered a single point, shooting 0-8 (yet he has had six turnovers). For some reason GM Billy King opted not to go after an offensive power forward before the trade deadline (Josh Smith, Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap) and that decision (or indecision) will likely cost the Nets.

4) Coaching. When P.J. took over the Nets got on a nice winning streak. People asked him what he’s doing different and he always answered “Not much, we’re basically doing the same things.” Like earlier in the season, “the same things” isn’t good enough. Besides the litany of turnovers and poor shooting, Carlesimo has no clue what he’s doing with the lineup. His All-Star center Brook Lopez, the MVP of the Nets season, did not play at all in the fourth quarter three times recently. Defense, in general, has not been the problem, yet he sticks with Evans, Wallace and Bogans so much (instead of Lopez + Blatche, Mirza and Brooks) and the Nets then struggle to score. Like early in the season with Avery, the Nets are blowing great first halves by completely falling apart at halftime.

I’m sorry, I know everyone smirks when you blame the coach but there is no question that Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo are not getting the most out of the talent on the team, or using them effectively.

There is still time to turn things around, and especially in the weak Eastern Conference the Nets still have a good chance to advance in the playoffs. Overall, they have a good makeup: one of the league’s best backcourts (despite their struggles this season) in Deron and Joe, the highest-scoring center in the league (Lopez), lots of bigs (Blatche, Evans, Humphries) and a good bench (Teletovic, Brooks, Watson and Bogans).  They are virtually in a three-way tie for the four seed and just four games behind the Pacers for #2. But as a team they are wildly inconsistent, especially on offense, and P.J. Carlesimo has got to figure out how to turn things around and get them back on track. He gets four days to think about it and fortunately that starts with a trip to Charlotte on Wednesday.