Late in the season, regular season contest between a playoff team and a non-playoff team are usually boring, especially if it’s a middling team with little gain with the win. The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final score of 113 to 95. The Nets didn’t start off particually well, but led Cleveland 28-20 at the end of the first quarter. However, the game broke loose when Brooklyn outscored Cleveland by 18 in the second quarter, taking a 26-point lead into halftime. With Joe Johnson out, and Gerald Wallace a late scratch, second year player MarShon Brooks got the starting nod. That’s interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is that Brooks, since returning from injury, has been a terrible player. Not only is he not hustling on the defensive end, but his shot wasn’t falling. The second reason is that Brooks is an important player going into the playoffs. Jerry Stackhouse and Keith Bogans provide leadership, but the leadership is more effective when it’s from the bench.
As we give him out grades, we’ll see how he fared against Cleveland’s defenders.
Bench Thoughts: Look who arose from the dead…C.J. Watson. I thought his 12 points were important for Brooklyn, even it was against Cleveland. The 7 assists were also a great look from Watson, who’s attributes will be needed in the next two weeks. The biggest thing that stood out to me was the lack of rebounding. Off the bench, Brooklyn had 11 rebounds from bench talent. Tonight, that didn’t effect them, but moving forward, I think Brooklyn will need a bit more energy off the bench on the glass.
Deron Williams: 27 points | 8-14 shooting | 8 assists | 3 rebounds | Grade: A
Against Kyrie Irving, Deron Williams was great. Not only did he help hold Irving to 5-16 shooting, but he also displayed an awesome performance on the offensive end. At this point, all Williams has to do is sharpen his skills. He needs to know who’s going to be open in the corners on the pick and roll, and he needs to know how to get the ball into Lopez, and just refining everything before the playoff starts. It’s good to see him be so efficient shooting the ball, and the 8 assists are important as well.
Keith Bogans: 0 points | 0-5 shooting | 5 assists | 2 rebounds | Grade: C
Bogans was awful in terms of shooting the ball, but he was great in two other areas. I’ll give him a C. Bogans’ five assists is something special, not because it was from Bogans, who’s normally a bench player, but because it shows you that the Nets are moving the ball a ton. Along with the assists, Bogans was great on defense, defending Alonzo Gee and Wayne Ellington on the perimeter. He’s been called upon to start with Joe Johnson out, and so far, Bogans has done his job.
You know, outside of the “shooting poorly” thing.
MarShon Brooks: 27 points | 12-16 shooting | 7 assists | 4 rebounds | Grade: A
Excellent. This is an A grade for many reasons. Brooks needed this game going into the playoffs. Now we’ve seen him get hot for a couple of games, and that should only help his momentum going into the playoffs. This also allows Brooklyn to give Brooks more of Bogans’ minutes once Joe Johnson comes back, and it also opens up some potential Williams-Brooks-Johnson-Wallace foursomes in the playoffs. Brooks played really well, got to the basket, and much like Bogans, the passing was infectious with seven assists of his own.
Reggie Evans: 8 points | 3-5 rebounds | 18 rebounds | 2 steals | Grade: B
Another good performance for Evans. Not only did he do his job on Tristan Thompson, but he also got some points. With Evans grabbing 18 rebounds, he set the tone early in terms of providing energy, but he also kept Thompson, a usually great rebounder/energy big man, from doing the same for Cleveland. Evans played a bit more physical, and that allowed the ball to be moved on the offensive end with ease.
Brook Lopez: 14 points | 4-9 shooting | 6 rebounds | 2 blocks | Grade: B
Good game for Lopez. He didn’t stand out to me, but I know he was there on the floor. Lopez vs Zeller was a better battle than I expected. Lopez got a couple hook shots off, and the jumper looked good, but they just didn’t fall. Just a good performance from Lopez, as once again, I felt like his presence mattered on the defensive end. He set the tone early with a couple contested shots, and it seemed like Cleveland just didn’t want to approach Lopez after that.
Next Game: The Nets had to the Barclays Center to play the Chicago Bulls at 7:00 pm.