Wednesday night was bad. Really, really bad. Everyone knows that. Most readers are on the East Coast and stayed up past midnight to watch their team get run over by one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. I could run off on a tangent about how bad the Nets were on Wednesday, but I'll condense it into three main points: perimeter play, paint presence, and defense.
Firstly, this team did not look like they possessed the fourth and fifth leaders all-time in three-point shooting. The Nets shot 3-of-13 from beyond the arc, two of those which came from Deron Williams when he was trying to get the Nets back into the game, essentially by forcing those shots.
As for actual half-court sets, there weren't many. A lot of the Nets possession turned into jump shots, which came off of isolations, or pick-and-pops that led to a one-on-one play, something that plagued the Nets last season. This was evident by Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson. Pierce started out shooting well, but after the first quarter, he was a ghost on the court. Johnson, on the other hand, was not the player he had been through the prior six games, picking his spots and backing down his smaller defenders. In the Kings game, Johnson went into "Iso-Joe" mode and it did not help the Nets cause. He shot 3-of-10 from the floor in 36 minutes of action.
The Nets on the perimeter offense was difficult to watch. They lacked much continuity and took matters into their own hands. This was an unpleasant change, for the team's issue before Wednesday, was passing too much, not too little. A team with this many weapons should not be playing "hero ball" with their opponents, they should work the ball around, driving and kicking out to the perimeter as they please. That is what will make this team successful.
Moving onto the second topic -- paint presence -- and as one can assume, there wasn't much of it. The Nets took 51 shots in the paint out of their 82 total shots, which is a fine number for a team like this until you see how many shots they made inside the paint: 23. That's 45 percent on layups and floaters for the people too lazy to do the math.
This was an improvement from the team's earlier games where they lacked a paint presence and did not attack the rim enough, but against the Kings they couldn't put the ball in the hoop. Each player was missing around the rim. Sure, the driving Net was bumped once or twice in his pursuit to the rim, but it's a layup, nobody should miss when they are that close. Paul Pierce shot 3-of-8 from inside the restricted area, and Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams shot 1-of-4, respectively. Joe Johnson shot a respectable 3-of-5 from the restricted area, but he was the only consistently fine finisher.
Overall in the paint, nothing was working. Whether it be backing their man down, or trying to go by them on a drive, the ball just wasn't going in. Even Brook Lopez, who is one of the most efficient big men in the post, had his fair share of troubles at Sleep Train Arena. Lopez shot 2-of-6 in the first half of the game, before getting some easy buckets in the second half. He was pushed around by DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson for much of the night; he couldn't finish strong and found himself fading away from the basket often.
Lastly, that god awful defense. The Nets were not athletic enough to keep up with the young Kings, but that doesn't mean that should be outworked by them. For starters, the Kings had 12 offensive rebounds, 17 second chance points, 18 fast break points and of course, a total of 107 points. To put that into perspective, coming into last night's contest, the Kings averaged 92 points per game.
The Kings did a majority of their damage from the perimeter. From just inside the arc, they shot a fine 15-of-24. Beyond it, they shot a mediocre 8-of-24, but that was enough for them to get way ahead of the Nets. Marcus Thornton, a known gunner on the court, torched the Nets, namely Jason Terry and Joe Johnson, hitting open threes and easy pull-up jumpers. Greivis Vasquez and Isaiah Thomas also had their way with the Nets and their lax defense, dribbling through the teeth of the D and getting open looks time after time.
Look, I can sit here and right even more and yell about how bad the Nets played in Sacramento, that they're 2-5, and that they're screwed. Although, I'll try and look at the glass half full to finish it off.
The Nets are playing pretty awful, but that doesn't mean that this team is an awful team. The pieces are there, clearly. It really is a matter of time before they put this together. Even in their losses to the Cavs, Wizards, and Pacers, the Nets moved the ball fine and played a balanced game on offense. Even though, they are losses, they need to be taken with a grain of salt because they are still building chemistry.
It takes time, be patient people. As Mike Fratello said on the YES broadcast, "If you ask them (the Nets), they would rather be 1-10 now and be 10-1 later."
Hopefully this loss last night is rock bottom and we never have to see footage of this again.
Five Final Thoughts Before We Permanently Scrub Our Brains Of All Nets-Kings Memories - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
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