The Nets get crushed by the Cavs – 91, 78
After nearly a month off vacationing around the States (and finally seeing the Nets play live – you can read about it here), I have returned to my native New Zealand, to my PhD, and to blogging about my lowly Nets.
On Wednesday night the Nets hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were fresh off a blow-out loss to the flaming hot Golden State Warriors. While oftentimes big losses like that can carry-over, the Nets were no match for the LeBron-lead team, and were handled easily.
The Nets’ starting lineup consisted of fringe NBA players Donald Sloan and Wayne Ellington, a washed up and miserable Joe Johnson, and frustrated and defeated only-good-players-on-the-team, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez. For everything Nets fans said about Jarrett Jack, he is sorely missed right now.
Sloan got a chance to prove himself early, as he played the pick game to perfection, racking up 5 assists in the first 6 minutes of the game. Meanwhile the Cavs started fairly sloppy, going 0-for-4 from the field and coughing up the ball several times. But the fact remains: the Cavs have a lot of talent. When you have the greatest basketball player of this generation, one of the best PGs in the league, and a 2x second team All NBA star, you’re not going to lose to this Nets team, who have the worst bench in the league:
The offense was, as usual, stagnant, as the Nets shot 40% to the Cavs’ 50, and on the defensive side they fared no better. Watch the god-awful defense on these plays:
Tony Brown has been mixing up his lineups like wild recently, and reverted to a puzzling group of Larkin, Bogdanovic, Karasev, Bargnani, and Reed in the second quarter. While Larkin and Reed can play a little, the other three trying to set up an offense or figure out something defensively was torture to watch.
The fact remains: Bogdanovic should be a spot up shooter. He should not be dribbling at all. He CAN’T dribble. Look how Shumpert got the better of him whenever he tried something:
Meanwhile, Karasev should not be playing at all, and Bargnani should only be taking shots when he’s coming off a pick and is wide open. The way he likes to pump fakes, take one dribble, and then take a shot 5 seconds into the clock without even considering a pass just demonstrates how poor his basketball IQ really is.
These are the guys from the Nets that should be taking shots, in order:
- Joe Johnson (I don’t even care that he’s awful now, at least there’s a chance he might resurrect himself and become Joe Jesus again)
- Larkin (especially from three)
- Ellington (especially from three)
- Bogdanovic (only from three)
- Bargnani (only off a pop)
- Markel Brown
- Willie Reed (dunks)
- Thomas Robinson (dunks)
- Karasev (never)
The number of early shots without play-running remains mind-boggling. The Nets need to run plays specific for the first three, and then have easy strategies for passing to the others either under the basket or from three when the defense comes running. Even doing this, the Nets will still suck (they can’t even make open threes this year), but at least TRYING this instead of their current strategy of literally making one-pass and then throwing it up would be an improvement. More of this, please:
Right now I’m simply hoping a new coach will help to make Lopez and Young feel less frustrated. It is clear the Brook feels the weight of this all – you can see him trying to do too much too often:
Why didn’t Brook pass to Joe here?
The fact remains: the Nets have one of the worst rosters in the NBA, and that will not change until at least next season. But, as professional basketball players, they should be able to recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and be able to run plays to capitalise on those strengths and weaknesses. Even when, inevitably, a play doesn’t work out, I will still appreciate some semblance of a strategy.
At least in this game we got to see some of New Jersey-born Kyrie Irving. How many days until Kyrie Irving is a free agent? 1630. Let us pray.