It’s time for the debut of All Nets: Three Pointers.
Welcome to Episode 1.
In the aftermath of each game, I’ll offer my quick take on three things that took place, and try to shine some spotlight on certain trends that crop up. So let's get on with on with it, shall we?
--* These sluggish starts are something the Nets need to correct before it becomes a bad habit. Seems as if there’s been a tendency in that regard so far in our small sample size. The Nets have fallen behind the good old proverbial 8-ball early and things weren’t any different in Saturday night’s 107-100 win over the Raptors at the Barclays Center.
After Deron Williams swished a jumper, officially scoring Brooklyn’s first points as a franchise, they didn’t lead again until they took it for good on C.J. Watson’s 10-foot fastbreak jumper with three minutes remaining in the second quarter, which made it 48-46.
“I didn’t like our start to the game,” Williams said. “I thought we were really flat. I think we got down eight or 10 in that first quarter and it’s just something we can’t have happen. Luckily, we were able to climb back and get back up by eight, but we just have to find a way to get more aggressive, be more aggressive on both ends of the floor.
“It happened to us a lot in the preseaon, where we didn’t get off to good start either the first quarter or the third quarter. And that’s not good because those first five minutes in the first and third quarter are some of the most important.”
--* The Nets’ biggest deficiency, again, was their lack of defensive pressure early on. Sure, Brook Lopez did a good job of protecting the paint. But the Nets let Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan shoot their eyes out from the perimeter, combining for more than half (53 to be precise) of the Raptors’ points. The Nets were really bad defensively in the first quarter, letting Toronto shoot 62.5 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from downtown.
Things got a little better once Avery Johnson mixed things up and brought the likes of Reggie Evans and the second unit in, particularly in the second quarter when they helped hold Toronto to 17 just points. But there’s an awful lot of room for improvement.
“The defense you saw in the first quarter,” Johnson said. “we are not going to beat anybody. So we’ve got work to. But fortunately, I’ll take 107 points. That’s even more than kind of our goals, but where we are defensively right now, we are not going to beat many teams consistently.
“Fortunately, we got a couple of breaks tonight offensively.”
--* Speaking of the second unit, we may have to come up with catchy name for the Nets’ bench because, hey, let’s be honest: they were the reason they won the game. When Johnson tossed out the lineup of Watson, Joe Johnson, MarShon Brooks, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche, they took things to another level.
They increased the pace, started creating steals and forcing turnovers.
“You always want to bring more energy, be more aggressive than the first unit,” Evans told me. “So it’s always a challenge. You challenge yourself, that way we can make it tough on Avery to sub us out. That’s all a part of trying to make our identity.”