When the Nets signed Jeremy Lin, a pick-and-roll specialist from the days of Linsanity, fans and pundits alike thought that he and Brook Lopez, who knows a little something about the set play, would use the pick-and-roll as their bread-and-butter.
Not so. So far. Is there a problem?
“I really want to establish our motion offense, [not] come down and run a pick-and-roll every time,’’ Atkinson said Friday. “Obviously, we’re going to need that in important times. But right now we’re trying to get the ball moving, trying to get the ball side to side, get everybody their touches. And Brook and Jeremy, they’re both going to have to learn to work within that dynamic.
“When it’s crunch time and we can think about drawing up special plays for getting it to them, you know, pick-and-roll with those two. But I think we’ve still got to progress with our offense. So, we’re not just going to rely on a one-five pick-and-roll all the time.”
So, the motion offense, borrowed and modified from Atlanta, comes first with its opportunities for both the deep three’s and the pick-and-roll. Iso plays, which dominated Lionel Hollins offense, are not going to dominate this one. Moreover, the Nets propensity for three point shots —135 in four games— is not a fad or an experiment. Nor is Lopez moving to the outside or spinning in the lane. That doesn’t mean no pick-and-rolls. Just ask the point guard.
“Every game is going to have its own personality,’’ Lin said. “There are going to be some games where there’s going to be heavy pick-and-roll and there’s going to be some games where you’ve got to mix it up. But for us right now, we understand that we need variety, and we have so many different types of players, so if we stay in the pick-and-roll, at some point that becomes a little predictable.
“If we’re able to hit them from a lot of different angles, that’s really what I’m going for. Obviously, if there’s one night where it’s working really well, we’ll go to it. But we have Brook back-to-the basket. We have shooters, Joe [Harris], Randy [Foye], Sean [Kilpatrick], coming off staggers. Then we have pick-and-roll guys, me and Greivis [Vasquez], who love making plays out of the pick-and-roll, so why not try to find something where we can put it all together? That’s kind of the goal.”
And his primary pick-and-roll partner?
“Yeah, no question. The process will definitely continue over the regular season as well,’’ Lopez said. “We have so many new bodies, new faces that we’re getting to know each other and know the system. We’re learning on the fly. But we have lots of intelligent, smart and selfless guys here, so we’re picking it up quick and we’re enjoying playing with each other.”
So we’re still in the experimental mode.
But the Nets will have to shoot better, be more efficient than they’ve been in the last three preseason games for things to work as well as Atkinson hopes. So far, the Nets have hit 34.8 percent from deep, but have been very inconsistent. They shot better than 40 percent in the games against Detroit and Miami, and under 30 percent in the games vs. New York and Boston.
Might we see more of the pick-and-roll in the last two games, Monday vs. the Celtics in Boston, then Thursday at home vs. the Knicks? Maybe, but at the least, we can expect to see more of Lin and Lopez on the court together. They’ve barely played together.
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