Analysis tries to get at Brooklyn Nets quarter-by-quarter problems

Stephen Dunn

Time for Avery Johnson to modify his halftime message? Either that or look deeper into the stats pool and try to determine why the Nets go from the NBA's best second quarter team to its worst third quarter team.

What happens at halftime? That seems to be the big question facing the Nets. In the second quarter, the Nets are the most efficient team in the entire NBA, a 32.1 point differential between their offensive rating, which is also No. 1 in the second quarter, and their defensive rating, which ranks No.4. Then, after they return from break, something weird happens. They suddenly go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, becoming the worst NBA team in the third quarter, with a 23.6 point deficit between their offensive and defensive rating. Their offense is the worst instead of the best and their defense in 28th worst, way down from fourth.

John Schuhmann tries his best to figure it out. He thinks the problem starts with the Nets backcourt.

Overall, Deron Williams has the worst on-court numbers in the Nets’ rotation (not including Gerald Wallace, who has played just three games). The All-Star point guard is a minus-18 and the Nets have been outscored by 5.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.

The answer isn’t as simple as saying that the Nets are better with Williams on the bench, because he’s a plus-32 in the second quarter. Really, it could be an issue of who Williams is on the floor with.

Who's he talking about? C.J. Watson. Schuhmann's analysis points to the Williams - Watson combination as the main culprit. It's producing the worst numbers, particularly on defense. Williams, Watson and Joe Johnson is his single worst combination, with a -26 +/- rating. The best? Johnson and Watson but no Williams, with a +38. MarShon Brooks hasn't been on the court enough to warrant inclusion in the analysis.

Bottom line for Schuhmann deals with Avery Johnson's reality at this point: "It will be impossible for Johnson to avoid using a Watson-Williams backcourt completely. Williams is going to average 35 minutes per game and Watson needs to play more than 13. So, if the Nets are truly going to compete with the best teams in the league, the pair will have to figure out their issues as the season goes on."

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