The Brooklyn Nets have sure had quite a topsy-turvy season with lots of hot streaks, cold streaks, impressive wins over good teams and confusing losses to bottom-feeders. The latest major question Nets fans are asking is which players should be receiving playing time at the power forward and center positions. In this article, I will break down which players should be playing in which situations during the game, starting with in the first quarter.
1st quarter, beginning of the game. Lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez.
Obviously, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Brook Lopez will be starting every game for the Nets as long as they are healthy. Although there have been questions about Gerald Wallace’s offensive game, he is still a significantly more valuable player than Keith Bogans or anybody else on the team and he deserves to start. Many Nets fans have questioned Reggie Evans in the starting lineup, but I believe this is where he should be. The Nets have had a very good record with Reggie in the starting lineup and he fits in well with Brook Lopez, who, despite how good he has been this season, is still a rebounding liability.
4 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter, Nets ahead by 5 or more points. Lineup: C.J. Watson, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche.
If the Nets are up in the game, the end of the first quarter could be a good time for Deron Williams and Brook Lopez to rest. Both have had injury problems in the past and it is better for them to get rest in the first half than in the second half. With Blatche and Teletovic in the game, the Nets will still have some offense on the court. However, if either Deron or Brook is very hot in the first quarter, they should stay in the game and ride their heat wave to possibly put the game out of reach for the opponent.
4 minutes remaining in the first quarter, Nets trail by 5 or more points. Lineup: C.J. Watson, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche.
The only difference I’m making here is that Reggie Evans will stay in the game. With the Nets trailing, the Nets will need Kris Humphries’s defense rather than Teletovic’s offense to make sure the game doesn’t get out of hand. Still, the Nets have been one of the best first quarter teams in the NBA this year and are rarely trailing towards the end of the first. If they are trailing, it is a good time to get Kris Humphries some minutes. He is getting paid $12 million and there is no reason for him to be glued to the bench. He doesn’t necessarily need a lot of playing time, but he should be getting around 10 minutes per game.
Start of the second quarter, Nets leading. Lineup: C.J. Watson, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche.
This lineup has lots of offensive firepower and it can put an opposing team out of a game for good (or at least until the Nets blow a lead in the third quarter). However, there are a lot of defensive liabilities with this lineup, too. Opposing teams could get back into the game if these guys are careless. Although this lineup is a bit of a gamble, against bad teams, I think it will work for the majority of the time.
Start of the second quarter, Nets trailing. Lineup: C.J. Watson, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche.
The difference here is that Joe Johnson will stay on the floor to keep some stability in the game and prevent it from getting out of hand. Of course, this could also mean that Joe might be playing the first 15 or 16 minutes of the game, but that is his role on the team. He is a workhorse who needs to play lots of minutes for the Nets to be successful.
Middle of the second quarter, Nets leading. Lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Mirza Teletovic, Brook Lopez.
This is the lineup we want to see for the Nets to close out the second quarter strongly and take a sizable lead into halftime. Mirza Teletovic replaces Reggie Evans with the rest of the starters because if he can catch fire from 3, he could get points on the board quickly. Although we have rarely seen this from Mirza this season, he has not gotten much playing time and he is capable of a game like this.
Middle of the second quarter, Nets trailing. Lineup: Deron Williams, Marshon Brooks, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez.
Joe Johnson needs to get some rest and this might be the best time for him to get it. It also gives Marshon the chance to play with the starters, so his defensive mistakes hopefully will not be nearly as costly. With Deron and Brook in the game, the Nets will have a chance to get back into the game offensively and Gerald Wallace can move back into guarding the best player on the opposing team, who is likely hot because the Nets are losing.
Start of the third quarter. Lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez.
At the start of the second half, coaches nearly always play the same players who started the game. I don’t expect P.J. to do anything different with this Nets team. Whether the Nets are winning or losing, the starters are the players who will either be able to expand the lead or start the comeback.
Middle of the third quarter, Nets leading. Lineup: C.J. Watson, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Andray Blatche, Brook Lopez.
This is the famous and rare Blatche-Lopez lineup that we saw last night. Along with those two, we have 3 bench players to give the starting backcourt a rest. Of course, the Nets won’t be able to use this lineup against every team, especially if they have a small, quicker power forward, but against most teams, the Nets will have an advantage with this lineup. NBA teams are moving away from playing centers, so it could come as a shock to some teams to see two centers in the game at the same time. Offensively, this lineup should be great. The question will be whether or not they can get back on defense.
Middle of the third quarter, Nets trailing. Lineup: Deron Williams, C.J. Watson, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez.
If the Nets are trailing in the game, it could be do-or-die time late in the third quarter. The Nets need Deron Williams on the floor to close out the quarter strongly to set the Nets up to still be in the game at the start of the fourth quarter. Also, this could be a good opportunity to give Kris Humphries some playing time. He has had a few games this year when he has a spark off the bench for Brooklyn, most notably in the last game against the Knicks. With lots of rest and lots to prove after being benched the last couple of games, Humphries could be useful in this role.
Start of the fourth quarter, Nets leading. Lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Mirza Teletovic, Andray Blatche.
It’s time for the knockout punch. The Nets have lots of offense in the lineup here and can maybe make a 10-point lead a 20-point lead. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were on the bench at the end of the third quarter, so they should be well rested. Mirza and Blatche are both talented offensive players and can help put the game out of reach.
Start of fourth quarter, Nets trailing. Lineup: C.J. Watson, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Gerald Wallace, Andray Blatche.
This lineup will be used to give the starters some rest and hopefully not make the opposing team’s lead any bigger than it currently is. The Nets have some good defensive players on the court with Bogans at the 3 and Wallace at the 4. This is not an ideal lineup, but it important for the starters to come back fresh to close the game.
End of game, tied or close game situation. Lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace/Keith Bogans, Reggie Evans/Mirza Teletovic, Brook Lopez.
The Nets’ Big 3 of Williams, Johnson, and Lopez will obviously be on the court. But after that, many of P.J.’s decisions will have to do with who is playing well right now. If Bogans has been hitting his 3′s in the game, he will be on the floor over Gerald Wallace. The same goes for Mirza over Reggie Evans. Blatche will only be playing if a player is in foul trouble, but the Nets have not had many foul problems this season. If the game is a blowout at this point, the Nets will obviously be putting their subs in the game.
Do you agree with these lineups? What would you do differently? Post your answers in the comments section below.