Game 1: Nets @ Celtics…the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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The Brooklyn Nets fell to the Boston Celtics last night 117-122. This was a strange game for the Nets as some of Coach Atkinson’s decisions were peculiar to say the least. But more on that later. It was still a good showing by the Nets overall even though the comeback came against mostly the Celtic’s second unit. But if this was last year’s team this would have been over early in the third quarter. An interesting thing I noticed is the Nets had ten players with over 18 minutes played in the game, with the most belonging to Lin at 27. It seemed like Kenny Atkinson was using this game and probably the next few games to feel out his roster and rotations and see what works and what doesn’t. But now let’s get to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good:

Three-point shooting

The Nets shot the ball well enough from three for 15 for 44 from deep for 34.1%. While not necessarily the most effective it still translates to about a 48% effective field goal percentage which isn’t horrible. I would like to see the Nets continue to shoot the three-ball with no fear but be wiser about their shot selection. They did get a little three-ball happy.

Justin Hamilton

Nets fan’s said “Show us what you got.”, and Justin Hamilton sure did show them. Hamilton went for 19 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 3 of 6 from deep. Hamilton is definitely the perfect off the bench center for the Nets. Although his defense leaves much to be desired he is doing what is expected of him. There’s a reason he was bought in this off-season, and he showed us the reason.

Team Grit

If this was last year, this game was over in the third quarter and you could have turned off your tv at that point. But this is a new year and the players do believe in themselves and each other. The team fought back consistently the whole game and when they went down big in the second half they bought it back to within 3 late in the fourth.

The Bad:

Jeremy Lin

Lin had 18 points on 43% shooting but only 3 assists and three rebounds along with a block and and 2 turnovers. Obviously not horrible but you expected him to create more for his teammates but the first-team offense just couldn’t get anything going. You want to see Lin averaging closer to 7 assists a game and although he had just two turnovers, they were ugly turnovers. Hopefully with more time this offense gels more and develops an identity. Also no steals for Lin is a little disappointing, I would like to see him with more active hands in the passing lanes and in general give opposing guards a more difficult time.  

Atkinson’s Substitutions

A couple of Atkinson’s moves were questionable. He took out Lin as soon as he was getting hot and did the same thing later with Bogdonavic. It seemed like he was being too rigid in trying to give everyone minutes in the game. I understand trying to develop the team but it was still a winnable game and the first game of the season.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

For a guy that played 24 minutes his statsheet was very bare. Also his defense was not up to par with last year’s play. I can chalk this one up to him still being a rookie in terms of career games played. I expect him to get in a groove sooner than later.

The Ugly:

Brook Lopez

Brook just seemed completely lost out there today. He was 1 of 7 shooting and just didn’t impact the game. The fault is not all Lopez’s though. First play of the game was drawn up for him to shoot a three and it’s obvious he is not in his element in this system as of right now. It didn’t help that he had to guard Horford who can hit the three decently and he forced Lopez to come out and guard him, not letting Lopez sit under the basket to alter shots. I hope Atkinson finds a way to maximize Lopez’s talent, as he is very capable of dropping 40 on any night if the offense is run through him, but it seems like every coach fails to utilize Lopez correctly. I expect to see Atkinson remedy this by next game, because if he continues to disregard Lopez in his offense, as much as I hate to say it, trade him for assets.

Defense

This was probably the single worst aspect of this game. Part of it is the talent level and part of it is Boston playing to the Net’s weakness. The Nets were unable to stop the Celtics who consistently ran the wheel play over and over and the Nets just could not stop it. The first half you noticed the Nets tried fighting over screens but were just horrible at it from both the primary defender aspect and the secondary. If the primary defender chooses to fight over the screen they need to be confident they can keep up with their man or draw the foul, which they did neither. The secondary defender, which is usually the player guarding the screener needs to be able to step up without letting the ball handler drive past him while buying enough time for the primary defender to recover. The Nets consistently could not defend against the screens and this left the ball handler with an easy drive to the basket or a wide open shot, when they secondary defender tried to help the Celtics were able to swing the ball around to the open man, since the Nets were always trying to catch up to guard the man with the ball. The second half you saw the Nets defenders go under the screens slightly more but that left the Celtics wide open for easy buckets, especially dangerous vs competent players like Isiah Thomas and Avery Bradley.  The defense is the one aspect of the game the Nets need to improve on most, otherwise this will be a long season. Unfortunately the talent is lacking on this team defensively. Hopefully Chris McCullough and Lavert develop into above average two way players.

Scola, Vasquez

Scola and Vasquez combined for -32 in plus-minus for the game in 40 combined minutes. It was really a poor showing on their parts. Vazquez missed his only shot, a three. As for Scola he was 1 of 5 from three, and 3 of 8 from the floor. There is no reason for that kind of show selection from Scola. I expected better for someone who was praised for being a savvy veteran. Vasquez looks like his body is 20 years older than his age. He is not capable of playing street ball at this point the way he is playing. He is just so slow and if he can’t shoot he offers nothing else to this team on either end of the floor.

The Nets next game is versus the Pacers tomorrow, a very well rounded team and I do not expect the Nets to fare too well. But let’s hope that Atkinson can get guys like Lopez, Lin, and Rondae going because if the Nets want to even win 25 games this year, they need to play better. But fortunately most of the issues are fixable with some coaching on Atkinson’s part.

Youssef Elkhateeb

Lifelong Nets, Mets, and Jets fan.

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