Starting Five: Which center gets left out?
April, 14, 2014
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
AP PhotosNEW YORK -- Before Sunday night’s game, Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd said that he’d love to play all three of his centers -- Kevin Garnett, Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche -- in the playoffs, but realistically, one of them is probably going to be the odd man out.
It’s certainly not going to be Garnett. That’s why the Nets traded for him. And the way Plumlee is playing right now, it doesn’t appear that it’s going to be him either.
In Brooklyn’s 97-88 victory over the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center on Sunday, Plumlee had 17 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block.
And get this: During the month of April, Plumlee is shooting 82.6 percent (38-for-46) from the field.
We repeat: 82.6 percent!
“I’m just anticipating where guys are gonna hit me,” Plumlee said. “They’re hitting me in stride. It’s all right around the rim, so they’re shots I should be making at a high percentage.”
Here’s what Kidd had to say about his rookie: “Mason’s having a heck of a year. I think with his energy and the veterans on the team, he brings that excitement. His ability to set picks and play above the rim is something that you can see he does very well. He’s starting to rebound the ball for us. Again, he’s playing at a very high level and we’re going to need that for him to get better. Oh, he had 11 rebounds. Yeah, he was good tonight.”
As for Plumlee’s chances of capturing Rookie of the Year, Kidd said: “You can blame the coach. I don’t let him shoot outside the paint, so I’ll take the bullet for that. I think the big thing is that he understands his role and he does it well, and I think he’s gotten better since the summer.”
All of this means that Blatche, who has been a key contributor all season, may find himself out of the rotation.
Kidd decided to play both Plumlee and Blatche with Garnett to see how they’d play together. The Nets may need to go big in the playoffs, especially if they’re going to face the Chicago Bulls -- with Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson -- in the first round.
Question: Who do you think should be the odd man out: Plumlee or Blatche? Let us know in the comments section below.
In case you missed it: Deron Williams thinks the fact that the Nets are the only New York City team in the playoffs is going to be good for their brand, while Paul Pierce suffered another stinger. Plus, our Rapid Reaction from Sunday night’s victory.
Stats of the day: The Nets have won 16 of their last 17 home games and 23 of their last 26. Brooklyn also matched its season high with 23 turnovers. Andrei Kirilenko has played 27 minutes in consecutive games. He played 27 or more minutes in just two of his previous 41 games. Pierce is just three points shy of his 15th straight 1,000-point season. Pierce also moved into 21st place on the NBA’s all-time steals list. Mirza Teletovic has scored 20-plus points (in a single game) five times off the bench this season. Brooklyn’s bench tallied 49 points on Sunday night.
Up next: The Nets are off Monday, then face the New York Knicks on Tuesday night at Barclays Center.