The man whose face was plastered on a fake missing person's poster slapped on a telephone pole outside Barclays Center last week once again is being barbecued from all angles.
Deron Williams, standing squarely in the middle of a nasty storm, is drawing the ire of many Nets fans. As they exited AmericanAirlines Arena after the Nets' 94-82 Game 2 loss to the Heat on Thursday night, a pair of fans grumbled openly about Williams' brutal outing -- and that was in South Florida. So imagine what kind of greeting might await him in Brooklyn as the Nets try to overcome a 2-0 series deficit.
In going scoreless for the first time in 60 playoff games, something he said he'll "definitely be thinking about" until tonight's Game 3 at Barclays Center, Williams was virtually invisible. But there's no time for the point guard to dwell on his golden goose egg. The Nets' season is on the line.
"We need a win," Williams said after the game. "It's a must win. We can't afford to go down 3-0. We need to get both of these at home, starting with the one on Saturday."
Williams' issues, particularly in the fourth quarter of these playoffs, represent a microcosm of the Nets' woes. In the eight final quarters he's played in the Nets' nine playoff games, he's 4-for-16 from the floor and 11-for-16 from the free-throw line with six turnovers.
Williams' production has taken a dip when a playoff game is within five points. In those situations, he's shot 34 percent (18-for-53) from the field and 19 percent (3-for-16) from beyond the arc.
His teammates weren't about to pin their latest defeat on him, though.
"We were still in position," Paul Pierce said. "You talk about a two-point game with five minutes to go. That's where we want to be, regardless of who's scoring the ball. We pride ourselves on the defensive end. We have enough weapons to make up for it. It doesn't matter."
Still, Williams has been outperformed by Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Miami's Mario Chalmers during this postseason.
It's not exactly the type of team-rallying performance many anticipated or expected when Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov opened up his checkbook two summers ago and gave Williams the keys to the franchise's luxury car, allowing him to hop behind the wheel and steer the Nets to culture-changing wins as they established themselves in Brooklyn.
Instead, other than the flashes he's shown for a small stretch or two, Williams has Nets fans wondering why he's been so inconsistent and so vexing.
Numerous injuries the past two seasons haven't helped. His ankles have been injected with painkillers, but Williams won't be receiving any sympathy cards from the Heat. Miami plans on keeping him in its crosshairs.
"For us, we don't really get involved into individuals and what they do," LeBron James said. "It's all about us. We just play our game and try to put pressure on the guys that can make plays for their team, and we did that."