It was not a merry Christmas for the Brooklyn Nets today as they lost to the Boston Celtics at home, 93-76. The game was the first game of a quintuple header of NBA Christmas games on national television. The Nets never got into the flow of their offense at all and the ball movement was horrible throughout the game. They were led by Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace, who each scored 15 points. For Boston, Rajon Rondo had 19 points while Jared Sullinger added a career high 16 off the bench.
The Nets had many, many issues in this game, beginning with their rebounding. Boston is one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and is very undersized. Still, they outrebounded Brooklyn 41-36. This was especially concerning because of how much of a size advantage the Nets had. At one point in the game, the Nets had Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche on the floor trying to rebound against Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass. Even though Lopez is not a great rebounder, the Nets cannot get outrebounded by a team like this.
Another big issue was turnovers. The Nets had 20 of them while Boston only had 11, and many of those came in garbage time when they had a 15-20 point lead in the fourth quarter. Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Andray Blatche all had at least 3 turnovers and that cannot happen.
A third problem was the Nets’ foul shooting. Despite getting to the foul line 29 times, the Nets only shot 59% from the stripe, leaving a lot of points on the board. If the Nets had been able to make all their foul shots, this would have been a very close and competitive game. Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, and Joe Johnson missed a combined 10 foul shots. That is not good.
Maybe the biggest issue for the Nets was their ball movement. After showing some improvement in that area on Sunday against Philadelphia, the Nets regressed today. The ball stopped moving way too often which allowed Boston to reset their defense. The Nets got very few easy looks at the basket, which is one of the main reasons why they only scored 76 points against a mediocre defensive team. In fact, the worst players for ball movement today were the Nets’ starting guards, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Those are players who are supposed to keep the ball moving. Instead, they slowed it down, forcing the Nets into too many isolations and bad shots with the shots clock winding down.
For a box score of this game, click here.
Player grades and notes:
Gerald Wallace: B
Wallace didn’t do much until the fourth quarter where he tried to keep the Nets in the game but he failed. He did a good job of drawing fouls in the fourth quarter but missed way too many foul shots. He also got into a fight with Kevin Garnett after a hard foul but there were no ejections this time around. He was active on defense where he recorded 3 steals.
Brook Lopez: C+
Brook Lopez had a pretty frustrating game. He took too many bad shots, missed too many free throws, and had too many turnovers. He was not effective on defense either and he allowed too many points to be scored in the paint. Still, he was the team’s leading scorer and leading rebounder with 15 points and 8 rebounds, so I suppose he played better than the rest of the Nets team.
Deron Williams: D+
Deron was pretty awful tonight. He looked like a very mediocre point guard, maybe a Chris Duhon with his 10 points and 6 assists. He wasn’t aggressive at all on offense and only took 7 shots the whole game. His 7 assists were below his season average and he also had 4 turnovers. He was ineffective on defense and allowed Rajon Rondo to score 19, well above his season average. Hopefully this will be a low point for Deron Williams.
Joe Johnson: D+
Before the season, the Brooklyn Nets proclaimed that Brooklyn’s Backcourt would be the best in the NBA. Today, they combined for 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists, far from the best. I would expect one of these players to have those stats. JJ had a miserable game. He took 14 shots and only made 4 of them despite playing 42 minutes. He wasn’t great on defense and didn’t move the offense along with only 2 assists.
Andray Blatche: C-
Blatche had probably his worst first half of the season. He looked like the Washington Wizards Blatche. He ended up finishing the game with 6 points and 7 rebounds, including 6 offensive rebounds. He had 3 turnovers and most of those were very ugly plays. Blatche played a little bit better in the second half than he did in the first, but was still quite bad.
Jerry Stackhouse: B-
Stackhouse had some nice isolations in the first half to lead to 7 points, but do the Nets really want their offense to run through Jerry Stackhouse isolations? Absolutely not. He cooled off in the second half and shot 3-8 from the field in the game.
C.J. Watson: B-
C.J. Watson had a few nice defensive plays but was in no way a game changer. He had the worst +/- of any bench player with a surprising -12. He didn’t seem to play that badly.
After this embarrassing loss, the Nets will need to forget about it and move on quickly. Tomorrow night, they will be facing the Bucks in Milwaukee and flew there tonight. Expect that to be another difficult game because the Nets have already lost to the Bucks this year in Brooklyn.