Tonight, the Nets lost at home to the Philadelphia 76ers 106-96 to fall to 3-2 in the preseason. Philadelphia improved to 4-1 behind strong performances from Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday. For the Nets, their three biggest stars, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez led the way, combining for 63 points.
After getting off to a hot start, the Nets defense let up 28 points in the first quarter and struggled throughout the game. Philadelphia seemed to get to all the loose balls which led to some easy baskets. Deron Williams was hot in the first half, scoring 15 of his 22 points, but the Nets were down by 8 at halftime. In the third quarter, Joe Johnson heated up in a big way. He went on a stretch where he couldn’t miss. This was great to see because we had not seen that from him yet in the preseason. The Nets began chipping away at the lead and got within 1 point of the Sixers before Philly pulled ahead in the end following a dagger 3-pointer by Nick Young with the shot clock expiring.
This was the fourth game in five nights for the Nets, and they were tired at the end of it. Thankfully, they will have 5 days off now before their final preseason game.
This was probably the most realistic preseason game we will see. Both teams only played their rotation players and they played their starters for long minutes, although who knows how hard they were trying. The way Philadelphia played tonight shows just how deep the Atlantic division is. This is a team without their best player, Andrew Bynum, and a team who also gave Evan Turner the night off. Despite that, they played very well and looked like they could easily be a playoff team. When Bynum comes back, this team could be very good and can definitely contend for the division crown. The Atlantic is undoubtedly the best division in the eastern conference and possibly in the NBA.
The next time we will be at Barclays Center is on November 1st, when the Nets host the New York knicks on opening night.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Brook Lopez: B+
Brook played a great game offensively and nobody on the Sixers was capable of stopping him. However, that will be different once Andrew Bynum returns to the Philadelphia lineup. Lopez’s defense concerned me tonight. He was facing Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes, who combined for 23 points. Neither of them is good offensively and Brook should have been able to hold the pair to under 15. The good news is that Lopez played 33 minutes in this game and showed no signs of his injury troubles from last season.
Deron Williams: B+
This was probably Deron’s best game so far this preseason. He limited his turnovers and made many good passes, although they resulted in only 4 assists due to Nets misses. He shot the ball pretty well and played well on defense.
Joe Johnson: A-
When Joe Johnson got hot in the second half, he was nearly unstoppable. He was doing everything on offense. He was posting up on smaller guys and getting to the rim for lay-ups. He was going around screens to get open for 3’s, which he knocked down. He was active on defense with 2 steals. My favorite part of JJ’s game is that if nothing else is working, he can always create a good shot for himself. When he is in the game, the Nets should never be in a drought on offense. Just get the ball to Johnson and he will make something happen.
C.J. Watson: C-
C.J. had an off night and did not play well in this game. He was 1-8 from the field, including a missed layup on a fast break. He did not make great decisions with the ball and only had 1 assist in 32 minutes. After backing up Deron Williams last night, Tyshawn Taylor did not play at all tonight because Watson took away all of his minutes.
Marshon Brooks: B
This was Marshon’s second game back and he looked better today than he did yesterday. He scored 6 points in 12 minutes and was a participant in the offense. On a contested fast break, Marshon had what I call a “Swag” lay-up, where he made a kind of hook shot to avoid getting blocked. It will be interesting to hear what Avery Johnson has to say about Marshon tonight. He did not play at all in the first half, possibly getting benched. I hope he doesn’t go into Avery’s doghouse; this is a possibility.
The Brooklyn Nets still have a lot of work to do before their season opener on November 1st. Luckily, they have nearly 2 weeks before then, and only one game during that time. That means they should have a lot of time to practice and improve before the games really count. That one remaining preseason game will be on Wednesday when the Nets face the New York Knicks at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.