We all thought it was over. Even when C.J. Watson missed a dunk that would have put the Nets up by 16 with just over 3 minutes to go, Nets fans laughed about it thinking what a blooper that would become. It’s not funny anymore. The Brooklyn Nets lost game 4 to the Chicago Bulls and now face a daunting 3-1 hole in their first round playoff series. In this article, I’ll look at some of the major plays as to why the Nets couldn’t win this game.
The first play that impacted the finish of this game was a play when it seemed like the Bulls still had a good chance to come back. With the Nets up by 7 and over 7 minutes remaining in regulation, Gerald Wallace set a great screen on Nate Robinson that knocked him down and forced Chicago to foul to stop the 5-on-4 Brooklyn possession. Even though Nate had 2 baskets earlier in the quarter, this one play seemed to really fire him up and get mad, which is sometimes a good thing for his opponents, but that was not the case today. Even though it was a great screen by Wallace, sometimes it is best not to anger the crazy beast that is Robinson.
However, after that play, Brooklyn took control of the game over the next 4 minutes, doubling their lead from 7 to 14 when the next major turning point happened, the Watson missed dunk. We all know that Nate Robinson hates Watson, so this may have also fired Nate up, who knows. Even though Nets fans may blame Watson’s blunder as the reason they lost this game, but so many other things went wrong that it is hard to make Watson the scapegoat.
The next key thing that happened was Nets missing foul shots. Chicago intentionally fouled the Nets twice, first with Reggie Evans, then with Gerald Wallace. Even though both players are above 50% foul shooters (Reggie is barely), they combined to go 0-4, giving Chicago life. On top of that, Nate Robinson was beginning his offensive craziness. By the time the intentional fouling was done, Nate had cut Brooklyn’s lead in half, to 7.
The next important play was the 3-point foul by Deron Williams on Nate Robinson. Replays showed that this probably wasn’t a foul, or at best a cheap foul with very minimal contact. Still, Robinson went to the line and knocked down all 3 free throws. Robinson then knocked down a couple more shots, along with finding Carlos Boozer to tie the game.
In the first overtime, neither team had a lead greater than 3, so I wouldn’t say that the Nets made any bad plays there. Nate Robinson made an insane floater from nearly 3-point territory with 2 seconds left and Joe Johnson answered with a shot in the paint to send the game to double-OT.
In the second overtime, Brook Lopez went to the foul line with 48 seconds remaining with a chance to give the Nets a 1-point lead. After making the first free throw to tie, he missed the second. Neither team scored again in that overtime period, so technically, if Lopez, a 90% free throw shooter in the playoffs, had made both, the Nets would have won.
The third overtime was really an opportunity for the Nets to win because of foul problems for Chicago. Even though Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans fouled out in the 3rd OT, Chicago was missing much more important players like Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah. But Brooklyn never took advantage and looked winded, even though it is hard to blame them for that. The key play in this period was when Andray Blatche didn’t box out Nazr Mohammed, who got an and-1 layup to put Chicago up 6 in the final 20 seconds. Blatche had no excuse for this. He needed to get that rebound to give the Nets any chance of coming back, even though things looked bleak at that point.
Despite all of this, maybe there was nothing the Nets could have done to win this game. With the shots Nate Robinson made in the fourth quarter and first overtime, all of which were contested, perhaps there was nothing the Nets could have done to prevent Chicago’s victory. Maybe it was fate.
What do you think?