Let’s talk about the small issues in victories. On the surface, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Indiana Pacers 117-109. The Nets finished the game shooting 51% from the field, 48% from three, and 80% from the free-throw line. The first quarter for Brooklyn was one of, if not the most dominant first quarters I’ve seen from a team all season. Against Indiana, one of the best defensive team in the league, Brooklyn shot 14-21 from the field, and 8-10 on mid-range jumpers. Based on that, as well as the score entering the third quarter (69-50 in favor of Brooklyn), you would’ve thought the Nets just finish this game with a loud thud, sending a message to Indiana (a potential second round opponent), Atlanta (the first round opponent for the Nets), and the rest of the East.
However, that wasn’t the case. Like much of the season, the Nets wilted in the second half, and at one point, the Nets were up 72-56, before Indiana went on a run, eventually pulling themselves within two with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Like any team coming back from a deficit that large, Indiana faltered, and that helped Brooklyn. However, that’s a huge problem going into the playoffs. Even though Atlanta might be a favorable matchup for Brooklyn, that they constantly allow teams to come back is a huge cause for concern. Not only does the offense falter, but the defense just falls to shreds. In the third quarter, Indiana scored 35 points, and that’s unacceptable. Another thing that needs to be pointed out: Chicago and Indiana aren’t good offenses, and both found ways to come back on Brooklyn. Yes, Gerald Wallace did not play tonight, but he did suit up against Chicago.
Let’s talk grades
Deron Williams: 33 points | 10-23 shooting | 14 assists | Grade: B
From a statistic standpoint, Williams had a solid game. What dropped his grade was the fact it seemed like he was a contributing factor in getting Indiana back in the game. For about ten minutes of real gametime, Williams seemed brutal. Missing shots, committing fouls, and bad passes. You name it, and Deron Williams probably did that in the middle of the third/beginning of the fourth. Still, Williams had a good performance on offense, and we can’t possibly ignore that.
Joe Johnson: 24 points | 9-17 shooting | 6 rebounds | Grade: A
I’m giving Johnson an A for the numbers he put up (Johnson also chipped in four assists and three steals), but mainly because I thought his defensive was on point against Paul George. He didn’t shut George down on the defensive end, but he looked like he could hold his own in a potential series in the second round. Johnson seems to have filled in a ton of holes with Wallace out, and his ability to help on both ends gives Brooklyn that second star player.
Keith Bogans: 0 points | 0-3 shooting | 3 assists | Grade: D
The Nets got much more from Jerry Stackhouse (14 points, 4-6 shooting), but Bogans was the starter, and he stunk it up. Thanks to the speed on the wing from Lance Stephenson and Paul George, Bogans just couldn’t find himself open for a jumper, and they didn’t land when he fired one up. The defensive was also pretty average, allowing Stephenson to bully him to the basket on a couple of occasions.
Reggie Evans: 3 points | 1-3 shooting | 12 rebounds | Grade: D
Evans did his job, but he gets a D because he was ejected. Once Evans got ejected, Indiana began to make a run, and that almost cost Brooklyn the game. His rebounding is vital to the team’s success. Getting ejected is a problem, and hopefully Evans can keep up his composure in the playoffs.
Brook Lopez: 24 points | 10-16 shooting | 6 rebounds | Grade: B-
On offensive, Lopez was great. While Roy Hibbert is a great interior defender, he isn’t that great of a defender when you go directly at him. Lopez attacked him, and even tested Hibbert with his jumper to mixed results. The only reason I was teetering with his grade is simple: Lopez has to become a better rebounder. With Evans out, six rebounds is a terrible numbers. No reason why he can’t average around 10 a night, and no reason why he couldn’t get ten with Lopez out for much of the second half.
Next Game: The Brooklyn Nets travel to Toronto to face the Raptors on Sunday, April 14th at 3:30 ET