The Brooklyn Nets will spend most of today looking for answers after the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Heat showed exactly why they are the two time defending champions in convincing fashion. Miami controlled almost every facet of the game from beginning to end and it is going to take some major adjustments if the Nets want to even the series up on Thursday night. Two teams were on the court last night but only one of them gave a full 48 minute effort, while the other looked to be constantly lost on defense and lacked the leadership needed to win a Playoff game. There were a few glaring issues for Brooklyn but there were also some minor issues that need to be looked at as well. Here are a few takeaways from game one along with some possible modifications necessary to steal home court in Game Two:
Joe Cool staying hot and Deron being consistent
Joe Johnson’s play has appeared to carry over from the Toronto series as he was consistent throughout the entirety of the game. He was able to put up 17 points while going 7 of 11 from the field and was the focal point of the offense during the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Unfortunately, he only received help from one other player on the team. His backcourt mate Deron Williams had a quality night and gave the Nets hope after sinking a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, cutting the deficit to three. These two will need to keep up their share of the offense going forward as they were the only real bright spots in a rough offensive game for Brooklyn.
Where (the rest of) Brooklyn at?
Johnson and Williams were good last night but as for the rest of the team? Well, not so much. Before even looking at the box score, I wrote down that Garnett has been a real non-factor in this game and has seemingly disappeared on offense. “Seemingly disappear on offense” may have been my understatement of the year so far. Garnett scored ZERO points and shot just 0 for 2 from the floor. Let’s put this in perspective, every player on the Nets scored last night except for Garnett. Even Jorge Gutierrez had a bucket! KG simply wasn’t looking for his shot and actually got switched up a few times on the defensive end. But the loss of this game isn’t squarely on Garnett, as Pierce only scored 8 and the bench did little to nothing on both sides of half court. It doesn’t really need to be said that if the rest of the team doesn’t contribute, then we might be headed for a sweep.
The Pine of the Nets
The bench unit of Brooklyn got a considerable amount of minutes last night after Kidd decided to try and use them in the 4th quarter to entice a comeback. It didn’t work out as planned as the lead continued to grow against a second unit that wasn’t able to defend. The white flag was raised midway through the 4th. But it wasn’t just the final period that the bench wasn’t able to get stops, it was the entire time that unit was in the game. Plumlee looked a step slow, Teletovic was at a disadvantage no matter who he was guarding, and Marcus Thornton was just waiting to get back on offense. It also didn’t help matters that Blatche was missing layups. The bench of Brooklyn needs to be more physical and take advantage of their size rather than looking completely lost on defense and allowing easy dunks on missed switches. The bench lineup is key throughout the rest of the series, especially if Garnett and Pierce are off to slow starts.
Who is best guarding Lebron?
Jason Kidd decided to throw a gauntlet down against King James in this series’ first matchup. James was guarded by almost every forward that is on the roster and was somewhat held in check by his standards. Now ultimately, the Heat didn’t need the four-time MVP to win this game but holding him to under 30 points without a triple double can be seen as a moral victory right? The Nets defended him with a combination of Johnson, Kirilenko, Pierce, and Alan Anderson. While none of them were overly effective, it appeared to be Anderson who had the most success. He played tight and was able to keep James in check while on the floor. He’s no Tony Allen or the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, but Anderson was constantly applying pressure when necessary. It will likely be a plethora of Nets that will be put up to the task on Thursday night. But don’t be surprised if Anderson gets the call down the stretch if Pierce is needed to carry the load on the offensive side of the ball.
Some major adjustments need to be made along with some extra prayers in order for the Nets to take down the champions.