Monday, April 21, 2014
Starting 5: D's first impression impressive
By Mike Mazzeo
The Brooklyn Nets weren’t perfect defensively in Game 1 on Saturday afternoon.
Kyle Lowry (22 points) and Jonas Valanciunas (17 points, 18 rebounds) had big games for the Raptors, while the Nets -- no surprise -- were outrebounded 45-37.
But their overall body of work on the defensive end was really impressive.
Brooklyn held Toronto to just 39.4 percent shooting and 87 points. The Nets are 17-0 this season when holding their opponent under 40 percent shooting and 13-0 when holding their opponent under 90 points.
“It’s about playing defense and getting stops this time of year,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s what, when you look at who’s won the championship, their defense has been on par or above par.”
Added Kidd on Sunday: “We want to make it tough on everyone. Being able to take away the 3-pointer and then also protect our paint is something that we’ve got to do a better job at, and that’s what we saw on tape today.”
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto’s leading scorer, was held by Shaun Livingston and Alan Anderson to just 14 points on 3-for-13 shooting -- 8.7 points below his regular season average. The Nets, who ranked second in the NBA in opponent turnover percentage in 2013-14, forced 19 Raptors turnovers and had nine steals.
“You know what makes it so different with them is they’re unconventional with their size, so it’s hard to get them in a rotation, because they’re small, got Paul Pierce at the 4, they’re kind of more in a zone,” DeRozan said. “So, it’s kind of tough to get them in rotation, so you’ve just got to figure out other ways to beat them, keep moving the ball and attack their feet.”
The Nets are going to have to concede something. It’s the NBA. Players are talented. Lowry is probably going to get his. So is Valanciunas. Ultimately, it’s about getting stops when it counts.
Question: What do you think of Brooklyn’s defense so far? Let us know in the comments section.
In case you missed it: Garnett talked about Deron Williams, Paul Pierce claimed he doesn’t know who Masai Ujiri is and Andrei Kirilenko said he isn’t upset about not playing in Game 1. Pierce also talked about his role as a villain and reflected on his Jan. 26 return to Boston.
Stat to know: Paul Pierce had seven of his nine fourth-quarter points while Patrick Patterson was the primary defender, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Up next: The Nets will practice again on Tuesday morning, then they’ll head back up north.