missing ‘X-Factor’ for the Nets.
April 30, 2014
Andray Blatche should be playing side-by-side with garnett in this Playoff Series (in my opinion).
I think a line-up of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson at the Guard spots; Paul Pierce at Small Forward; garnett at Power Forward; and Andray Blatche at Center, is the strongest possible team the Nets can put on the floor against this particular team (Toronto).
Last season the Nets faced a question very similar to the question they’re facing right now. "Should we play our two Centers together?" Last year, it seemed like the answer to that question was obvious to almost everyone outside of the Nets coaching staff. Fans, media, even players, felt, "Yes! Of course you should play them together." It seemed like everyone felt that the Nets’ strongest line-up was Blatche and Lopez in the line-up together, and wondered why they were almost never played together.
The few rare times the coaching staff did elect to put them on the floor together, the experiment worked, and the Nets won those games. Like Game 5, for example. Nets coaching staff decided to play them together in a must win Playoff elimination game against Chicago. The Nets won it by 19 points.
The fact that the staff chose to put them together in a ‘do or die’ game, made some wonder if the staff actually DID know that the Blatche-Lopez combo was the strongest Nets line-up. If they did know that, why didn’t they do it more often? Maybe they just wanted to prove to everyone that they could win in a different way? Who knows. Doesn’t matter now. Nets got bounced in the 1st Round.
What does matter now is that it seems like the Nets are facing (or ignoring?) that same exact question again, "Should we play Blatche and garnett together?" This question is really not as difficult as some might think it is. It wasn’t difficult last year, and it shouldn’t be difficult this year.
Last year, one reason why some people felt that Blatche and Lopez should not be played together, was because they were both Centers.
While it was true that Lopez was a 100% ‘genuine’ Center, it was also true that, Blatche had experience playing other positions besides Center. Blatche had played Forward as well as Center. In fact, when Blatche was shorter, he had even played Guard. So Blatche could have gotten on the court with Lopez at the Power Forward spot, comfortably, while Lopez continued to play Center.
Once again, the, "They’re both Centers", argument is probably one of the main arguments against playing Blatche and garnett together this year.
Like last year, however, the rebuttal to that argument is, each of them are capable of playing both Center and Forward. In the Series before us (Nets vs. Toronto), Blatche should play Center (as he has many times before), and garnett should play Power Forward (as he has many times before).
Another argument against this might be ‘rotation problems’.
This is not a problem at all. There are, in fact, many different rotational scenarios that would work.
Here’s the one that I think is the best:
Blatche and garnett Start together. Let garnett play the first six minutes of the First Quarter, than take him out. (It’s the beginning of the game; garnett is well rested. It should be no problem at all for him to be able to play six measly minutes at the beginning of a game.) Leave Blatche in for three more minutes, then substitute Plumlee in for him. Let Plumlee play the last three minutes of the First Quarter. At the beginning of the Second Quarter, put Plumlee back in and let him play the first five minutes of the Second Quarter. After those five minutes, substitute Plumlee out for Blatche. One minute later, add garnett. Let Blatche and garnett play the last six minutes of the Second Quarter together. (At this point garnett has only played twelve minutes in the First Half; so he should be fine. Now, it’s Half-Time, and he can get a nice rest if he needs it.) At the beginning of the Third Quarter, put Blatche and garnett back in together. They’ve both just had a good Half-time rest. They both should be ‘good to go’, as they say (lol). Let them play for the first four minutes of the Third Quarter, and then take them both out. Put Plumlee in, and let him play the last eight minutes of the Third. Bring Plumlee back in at the beginning of the Fourth Quarter. Let him play the first three minutes, then sub him out for Blatche. Add garnett a minute later, and let Blatche and garnett play out the last eight minutes of the game together.
In the above scenario, you have Blatche and garnett playing substantial minutes together :
six together in the First; six together in the Second; four together in the Third; and eight together in the Fourth. garnett only needs to play 24 minutes total in this scenario (of course ‘tweeks’ can be made to it.)
One other ‘main’ argument against playing Blatche and garnett together might be concerns about Blatche’s defense.
I look at this concern like this. I think Blatche’s positives outweigh his negatives. There are plenty of hi-scoring NBA players who don’t play the greatest defense. Plenty of them. But these guys put points on the board. Should we just bench these guys and waste all those good points just because they’re not as good defensively as we want them to be?
Some guys have a natural ‘knack’ for scoring, but just can’t ‘wrap their head around’ the defensive complexities of the game. Even if they can’t play great defense, you should still take advantage of these guy’s scoring talents.
What does a coach accomplish if he says, "I’m the General and you’re just the Private. I’m going to make you do it my way or you’re not going to play." The player sits there on the bench, collects his millions, and goes to another team the next season. What did the coach accomplish? The player didn’t do it his way (because maybe he just can’t, no matter how hard he tries), and now he’s gone. The Coach could have used this player’s offensive talents to win some games, or a Playoff Series, or even the Finals.
Blatche is a 6-11, 260 pound scoring Center who is hard to stop when he gets going.
This season he averaged 11.2ppg in only 22 minutes per game - and grabbed 5.3 rebounds per game in that short time span to boot. Those are Starters numbers. I would have him on the court in a SECOND – regardless of his defensive lapses.
Toronto’s coach is probably holding his breath right now, hoping the Net’ Staff continues to leave Blatche on the bench for the majority of each game. I’m pretty sure he realizes how powerful the Nets’ line-up would be with Blatche and garnett playing together. Blatche dunking, making lay-ups, scoring every way he can on Valanciunas; garnet grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, shutting down Amir Johnson. Good offense and good defense playing together – they complement each other. It’s a natural fit.
Guys, you have got to give some serious thought to putting Blatche on the court with garnett.
I think he’s the missing ingredient to the Nets recipe for success. He’s the ‘X-Factor' in this Series. He adds scoring. He adds rebounding. He upgrades the line-up by allowing Pierce to play his natural position of Small Forward – where he has the advantage on Ross and Salmons both; he allows garnet to switch to Johnson - where he has the height and weight advantage over him; he allows Livingston to make the defensive switch to Vasquez - a player that Livingston can probably shut down.
The Livingston switch is especially important because DeRozen has been having his way with Livingston, and, Vasquez has hurt the Nets with his scoring. Putting someone else on Derozen, and putting Livingston on Vasquez, may solve both of these major problems.
I know the Nets won a lot of games using the current line-up, but what works well during the regular season doesn’t always work so well during the Playoffs. The Playoffs is about making adjustments. You have to be able to make adjustments on the fly. I think putting Blatche together with garnett is the most important adjustment you guys can make right now.