Sunday, November 10, 2013
Why are the Nets 2-4?
By Mike Mazzeo
NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets are 2-4. Obviously, it's not the start this $190 million team wanted.
At the same time, they know it's early in the season. They know they're a new team and they're still learning each other's tendencies.
Some of their players have been hurt. Therefore, their rotation has been somewhat in-flux.
That's fine. At this early juncture, as the old saying goes, patience is a virtue. There's still plenty of season left.
But that didn't stop ESPNNewYork.com from delving into why the Nets record is what it is:
Late-game failures: The Nets obviously didn't show up in Orlando, but their other three losses were very winnable games. In their regular-season opener in Cleveland, the Nets trailed by nine heading into the fourth quarter, but rallied back. Unfortunately, Anderson Varejao hit two tough shots -- one of them a layup off the wrong foot with the shot-clock winding down -- and a late-game Iso-Joe set turned into an off-balance, fallaway Paul Pierce jumper that he missed.
Friday night against the Wizards, the Nets let an 11-point lead slip away with under five minutes left. The game turned at the 2:05 mark, when John Wall stole the ball from Jason Terry, which led to back-to-back 3-point plays by Nene. The Nets were leading 96-91 at the time. It was a surprise that Terry, not Deron Williams, was taking the ball up in that spot, with Williams standing near mid-court. Brooklyn then let Wall get to the rim on Washington's final possession, which led to Nene cleaning up his missed layup and sending the game into overtime, where the Nets would have their 10-game regular-season winning streak in the extra session come to an end.
Saturday night's game turned at the 2:58 mark, when Brook Lopez missed a layup that would've brought the Nets within 90-89. At the other end, Williams inexplicably fouled George Hill as he was shooting a 3-pointer. Hill made 2 of 3 free throws, and the Nets couldn't corral the rebound after he missed the third. And off a jump-ball, Paul George drilled a baseline jumper, meaning a four-point swing and a 94-87 Indiana lead 27 seconds later. It was obviously too much to overcome.
Third is STILL the bad word: The third quarter was a bugaboo for the Nets all of last season. And it continues to be a problem in 2013-14.
Williams said it was something first-year coach Jason Kidd talked to the team about Saturday night, making sure they take care of business in the third. Of course, they failed to. The Pacers are actually the league's best third-quarter team. The Nets would clearly be a better team if they had better thirds.
D-Won't: Williams had his best game of the season Saturday night, scoring a season-high 17 points and dishing out a season-high 10 assists in a season-high 33 minutes. He definitely looked as good as he has in 2013-14. But overall, it's been a struggle. Williams has been hampered by an ankle injury he suffered in the offseason. He came into Saturday night's game averaging just 9.6 points and 7.0 assists on 40 percent shooting. D-Will's PER was just 12.33, 40th-best among point guards. That's just not good enough. As we've written on this blog before, if D-Will is playing like an elite point guard, the Nets are going to be an elite team. If not, well ...
Woe is KG: Kevin Garnett is shooting just 32.1 percent. He makes 2.8 field goals per game, but takes 8.8. According to NBA.com, he is just 3-for-8 in the restricted area (37.5 percent) and 12-for-34 on mid-range shots (35.3 percent). Obviously, it’s early. But when a player is 37 -- even if that player is a future Hall of Famer like KG -- you never know if you should be more concerned than you are.
Road struggles: The Nets won a franchise-record 23 games on the road last season, but are 0-3 away from home this season. In those games, they are averaging 96.0 points per game and giving up 105.7 points per game. Paul Pierce said he hopes their fortunes change when they embark on a three-game trip out West, which begins Wednesday night in Sacramento.