By now, everyone knows that this game was a roller coaster with too many sharp turns and flips. Brandon Knight missed a point blank layup after Joe Johnson turned the ball over, but then hit the game-tying three off a great play drawn up by (maybe) Jason Kidd. O.J Mayo played incredible basketball in the final stages of the game, but lost the ball when he had a chance to end it. Bojan Bogdanovic, the Nets best player again, missed an uncontested three that would have given the Nets the lead.
Those are the facts. The Nets blew what was a double digit second half lead and lost it in triple overtime. Where does the blame go?
Twitter exploded last night with many pointing fingers and saying "blow it up." Most of the finger pointing was directed at the Nets franchise cornerstone: Deron Williams.
First, Williams has been having a great bounce back season. He has been in control of the game and has paced the Nets offense. In spite of this, Williams still defers to Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez when the game gets tight. Williams had 11 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't until the third overtime that he scored again. Williams only took three shots, including his one make, in the overtime periods, going with his two turnovers that came down the stretch of the first overtime.
Is there anything wrong with letting one of, if not the most, clutch player in the NBA get the ball with the clock winding down? No. Is there anything wrong with giving the ball to one of, if not the best scoring big man in the game down the stretch? No.
Williams has a history of not taking over late in games, but when the Nets have a "Big 3" containing two lethal scorers and several complementary players that are capable of hitting big shots, Williams is just a facilitator. It was Williams who kept the Nets afloat in the fourth quarter. It was Williams who kept the Nets in striking distance in the third and final overtime with his three.
In the second overtime, the ball went to Lopez time in and time again. Why didn't DWill take over and run the offense? In that stage in the game, Hollins opted to have the ball go to Johnson and have him create.
Here, this ATO "after time out," is drawn up for Johnson to get the ball and take it himself. If the coach opts to go to the lethal scoring threat down the stretch and have the max contract point guard waiting as a safety valve, why not? Williams made the play when he was needed to.
I think more flack should be tossed Lionel Hollins way. I'm a big fan of the way he coaches and I understand 100% why he would go Iso-Joe down the stretch. It has worked for the past three coaches, why not try it? With the length of the Bucks, especially Giannis Antetokounmpo it is particularly difficult for Johnson to get a good look. Hollins was better off implementing some creativity, getting some separation for his players, or at least have some off-ball movement. Well, Hollins finally put the ball in someone elses hands and it didn't work.
You guys are wrong if you think DWill had a point blank layup. You try and get to the rim over the Greek Freak, it's not so easy, as pointed out by Devin Kharpertian of the Brooklyn Game.
Antetokounmpo has so much length that he not only checked DWill's pursuit to the rim, but he also got back to make Johnson's short corner jumper a tough one. Not to mention, Johnson logged 52 minutes at that point and he may have left it short because he had no legs.
Hollins also left Jarrett Jack in down the stretch of the third overtime, and stuck with a seven man rotation throughout all the overtimes. In the third overtime in particular, Kidd made adjustments while Hollins stuck with his guns. Khris Middleton didn't play in the first two overtime sessions, but played the entire third overtime. His length and fresh legs caused a problem for the guy defending him, Jack. Hollins should have picked up on this and made an adjustment sooner, because the Bucks had already seized control of the game.
I get why Williams is going to receive a ton of grief for this game, as he should. But in hindsight, this game shouldn't fall on him. For all the people panicking, don't. This is not as bad 10-21. The team is 4-7 and the middle of the East is as jumbled as ever. The Charlotte Hornets, everybody's favorite Eastern Conference dark horse, is 4-8, the Hawks are 5-5, and the Heat are 6-5.
It is too early to tell where this team is going, but the early reports back aren't as ideal as we hoped. There is time to turn it around, but I think Williams is ahead of the eight-ball and is playing solid basketball, something most Nets can't say.