EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Kevin Garnett repeatedly used the word “aggressive” whenever he talked about what the Nets have to do in Game 5.
It appears Deron Williams has gotten the message. When asked what his mindset will be going into the next game, Williams repeated Garnett’s Game 5 mantra.
“Just to be aggressive the whole game,” Williams said after Nets’ practice. “That’s it. I was aggressive the first quarter, got some foul trouble. I wasn’t as aggressive in the second half as I like to be.”
Williams scored just 10 points, none coming in the second half of the Nets’ 87-79 Game 4 loss to Toronto. The best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2 and the Nets know they need a super aggressive Williams in order to have a chance to steal another game in Toronto.
When Williams has been on the attack, the Nets have fed off their point guard's energy. During the Nets’ Game 3 victory, Williams scored 22 points and he is averaging 23 points in the Nets’ two wins in this series.
“He’s key,” Paul Pierce said when asked about Williams. “We have a lot of players who are key. But Deron is the guy who is in the driver’s seat. He’s our point guard. So we feed off him a lot. When he’s aggressive, taking the ball to the basket, getting shots up. That seems to bode well for all of us.”
Williams has been notably hard on himself at times, talking about losing confidence over the past couple of seasons due to injuries. Garnett has said that Williams is so hard on himself at times that “Deron’s biggest problem has been Deron.”
Garnett says Williams just needs to focus on playing to his strengths and giving his all so that he doesn’t have any regrets.
“The things that got you here,” Garnett said when asked how Williams tries not to do too much. “Understand the aggression, and the fact that you are an extreme competitor, more importantly being real with yourself and being able to look at yourself in the mirror and say I gave everything is very important.
“Deron likes to take it a little extra step,” Garnett continued. “But that is what makes him a good athlete, that is what makes him one of the best in our game and we got to continue [to make sure] that he doesn’t beat himself to the point where he is not effective.”
Williams wasn’t alone as far as Nets who were taken out of their games by Toronto in Game 4. Joe Johnson was another key Net scorer who was ineffective. Toronto sent timely double teams to help hold Johnson to just seven points and only seven shots in Game 4.
The Nets know they have to do a better job of helping Johnson when he draws extra attention. When Johnson and Williams are scoring, the Raptors have had difficulty slowing down the Nets.
"It just makes us difficult to guard," Garnett said on Saturday of Johnson and Williams when they are on. "When the head of Voltron is at its best, it’s very hard to deal with.”
In the Nets’ two wins against Toronto, Williams and Johnson averaged a combined 49.5 points and shot a total of 34-for-64 from the field. In the two losses, the duo averaged only a combined 25 points and shot a total of 18-for-47 from the field.
“We have to make ourselves available for Joe,” Garnett said of beating double teams. “Paul and I have been double-teamed in this league, it is a very, very difficult thing. We have a lot of weapons on this team, we got to make sure we are available for Joe.”
“Everybody has to be aggressive in this series.”
Williams, especially, knows this.