Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Brooklyn Nets: Flatbush Taking Their Talents To South Beach

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH

!Nos Vamos a Miami ~ We're Going To Miami!

Brooklyn Wins Series Over Toronto 4-3
I - BKN 94; TOR 87
II - TOR 100; BKN 95
III - BKN 102; TOR 98
IV - TOR 87; BKN 79
V - TOR 115; BKN 113
VI - BKN 97; TOR 83
VII - BKN 104; TOR 103


Miami Heat
The Rony Seikaly Green House

BROOKLYN NETS: If Paul Pierce is The Truth, then Kevin Garnett was The Difference.

In seven games against the Raptors, Garnett averaged 20 minutes, 8.4 points, and 5.4 rebounds.  The real story however, was told in games Six and Seven.

In the first five games of the series, KG averaged 17.8 minutes, 6.8 points, and 4.4 rebounds.  Those averages include a deflating Game Five, in which he was relegated (along with Paul Pierce) to the bench in the 4th quarter after playing only 12 minutes, and scoring 4 points with 2 rebounds.  Those five game averages are similar, if not quite up to par with KG's regular season averages of 20.5 minutes, 6.5 points, and 6.6 rebounds in 54 games played.

However, in games Six and Seven, KG averaged 26 minutes, 12.5 points, and 8 rebounds.  He posted double-digit points in each game, and in the series finale, posted a double-double (11 rebounds) for the only time in 7 games.  That's called showing up when it counts.

You also have to give him credit for his work at the other end of the floor.  Kevin Garnett was a defensive presence throughout the series, and helped neutralize Jonas Valanciunas, after the Raptors center went wild in Game One.  Garnett kept the overall battle of the boards honest.

Now we're really going to find out how much The Big Ticket has left in his tank.  He will turn 38-years old this month.  He missed 30 games in March with a cranky back, but, one month later, he appears free of discomfort.  Tuesday will technically only be his 62nd game of the year, and so Kevin Garnett might be fresher than he might otherwise have been.

In fact, his last two games more resemble his November production, than some old guy struggling to hold on. Last November he averaged 22.6 minutes, 6.4 points, and 8.4 rebounds a night.  It's the month when Garnett scored his season high 16 points, and brought down a season high 14 rebounds.  So maybe Garnett is indeed feeling fresher than anticipated.

Thanks to Garnett, and Paul Pierce, and Alan Anderson, Marcus Thornton, Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche, Mirza Teletovic, Mason Plumlee, Andrei Kirilenko, and yes, Deron Williams, this year's Nets did what last year's version could not.  Billy King's team advanced to the second round.  And make no mistake, this is Billy King's team.  But, I don't think he's breathing a huge sigh of relief having escaped the f***ing Raptors alive.  There is still a mandate in place.

However, I small measure of congratulations are still in order.  Brooklyn has their first ever NBA Game Seven playoff victory.  For the Borough, and the brief story that is Brooklyn basketball, that's significant.

I know.  But, what of Joe Johnson?  Yes, where on earth would Flatbush be without Joe Johnson, who's contract was widely criticized upon his acquisition?  While he was already noted for hitting big shots since his Atlanta days, whether fairly or not, he also developed a reputation for disappearing for stretches, if not games at a time, which was not easily shaken upon his initial arrival in Brooklyn.

Last season, he was hobbled by a foot ailment, that sometimes was mistakenly viewed as recurring withdrawal on his part.  But this season, ever since Brook Lopez went down, Joe Johnson has been the undisputed leader, and the team's primary offensive weapon.  He basically had his way with Toronto, and is the primary reason why Brooklyn's 2nd NBA season will continue deeper into Spring.

Joe Cool, 32, ended the regular season averaging 32 minutes, 15.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and shot 45% from the field.  His numbers were actually slightly down from his first season in Brooklyn.

With perhaps the exception of Game Four, when Toronto threw double, and triple teams at Joe, the Raptors had no real answer, and could not stop Joe Johnson in 6 of the 7 games.  For the series, Johnson averaged 40 minutes, 21.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and shot 52% from the field.   By comparison, DeMar DeRozan shot 38%, and Kyle Lowry shot 40% from the field.

In Game Seven, Joe led the Nets with 26 points.  After getting limited to just 7 points in Game Four, he roared back in Game Five with a Nets high 32 points, albeit in a 115-113 losing effort.  In all, he scored 24+ points 4 times in the series.  He figures to draw Dwayne Wade in the next series, and should enjoy another size advantage.

For Joe Johnson's beleaguered back court mate, it's time for Deron Williams to regroup, address some issues, an prepare for LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Moving forward, he needs to limit his turnovers, which at 2.7 for the series doesn't seem like much, it's just they came at the absolute worst times.  Ideally, he needs to stay aggressive and continue driving the lane.  It's getting him to the free throw line just fine, but, that's where a preponderance of his 18 turnovers have occurred.

No one is questioning his effort, but when his shooting from the field plummets to 30% levels, his game seemingly unravels, and the Nets correspondingly suffer.  He was only 3/8 (37%) from the field in Game Seven, but 7/10 from the line, and tied with Joe Johnson with (only) 4 assists.

In games One, Three and Six victories, Deron combined to shoot 23/50 (46%) from the field, averaging 23 points, and 5 assists.  In three Nets losses, Deron was 12/34 (35%) from the field, averaging 12 points, and a slightly higher 6.6 assists, mostly due to his 9 assist performance in Game Five's loss.

My last word involves the last shot of Game Seven.  Upon receiving the in-bounds pass, Kyle Lowry had three Nets players blanketing him where ever he attempted to go.  When detoured, Garnett cause him to mishandle, and Paul Pierce ultimately closed out the game with a blocked shot.

That said, how about Jason Kidd getting a bunch of very veteran players collectively buying into playing defense, throughout the season, and through Round One no less?

The additions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett indeed made a difference this season, and we're about to find out how much farther all these Nets can go.

With regards to 4 regular season meetings against Miami, the Nets swept the series, but, 3 of the 4 games were only decided by a single point - (just like Game Seven against the Raptors.....)

Nets Swept Season Series 4-0
I - BKN 101; MIA 100
II - BKN 104; MIA 95
III - BKN 96; MIA 95
IV - BKN 88; MIA 87

You know what I say - once is an event, twice is a coincidence, and three times starts a trend.

Defense indeed.

It's time to trade in Toronto's sweater weather, for the Heat of South Beach.

Flatbush, meet Collins Avenue - Collins Avenue, meet Flatbush.


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