The Nets defeated the Hornets in a thrilling double overtime game, 134-132 in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. Here are some thoughts.
1. Rodions Kurucs defensive versatility
Prior to Wednesday’s game, in his press conference, Kenny Atkinson was asked about the defensive capabilities of his rookie small forward. “He’s out there because he can defend. We like his length, and we believe he can guard 1 through 4.” It was almost as if Atkinson had a crystal ball and saw how this game would unfold. Kurucs was instrumental in this game and he spent time guarding various positions on the floor.
He seems to have a preternatural ability to read passing lanes (Kurucs finished with 3 steals) and position himself in the right place to disrupt the man he is assigned to defend. Yes. There is that vaunted length. The 6’9″Latvian (though he seems slightly taller) possesses at least a seven-foot wingspan, and he’s a better athlete than you think. Put all that together and he’s already a decent defender. Give him more time and experience in the NBA and he could be one of the better two-way players from the 2018 draft class.
Down the stretch in this tightly contested game, he guarded Kemba Walker. One of the shiftiest and best isolation guards in the league. Kemba got the best of him a few times, as he should, but Kurucs more than held his own.
Following the game, Kenny was asked a few times about Kurucs’ play on the defensive end.
Kenny has a lot of confidence in his rookie but that doesn’t mean he isn’t nervous when Kurucs is matched up on an elite player like Kemba.
2. Kemba Walker’s inside-out dribble is devastating
The Hornets’ star guard finished with 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was lethal and extremely efficient. Shooting 50% overall and 44% from three. His ability to get separation with his crossover and his inside-out dribble is incredible to watch in person. He had several Nets defenders going one way, while he was going the other. When he creates space he can either rise up for a shot, or he can dish to an open teammate on the wing for a catch and shoot three, or a teammate cutting to the rim. Either way, it’s deadly for opponents.
This is Walker’s 7th season in the NBA and the 2X all-star has turned himself into one of the best point guards in the league. Following the game, Spencer Dinwiddie spoke about what makes Kemba such a tough cover.
3. Officiating down the stretch
There was some bizarre officiating down the stretch. Missed calls, phantom calls, inconsistent calls. It seemed like both sides had a gripe about some egregious error. But, that’s sports, right? One could argue, the Hornets got a more beneficial whistle. They made 30 trips to the free throw line, compared to only 18 by the Nets. But, if we take a look at attempted shots in the paint, the Hornets took 53 to only 45 by the Nets. That could explain the free throw discrepancy.
Fans of the Nets will say their team doesn’t get respect from the officials and Spencer Dinwiddie doesn’t get the respect a player of his caliber should. That may be true or it may not. But, if the Nets continue to play well and balanced between three-pointers and attacking the paint, the calls will work themselves out in the end.
4. D’Angelo Russell on the bench for the fourth quarter and both overtimes
DLo finished with 16 points and 4 assists in 27 minutes of action on Wednesday. He shot below 40% and was 2-9 from three. The most notable thing about his night was his absence from the floor during the 4th quarter and both overtimes. This was yet another close game where, for whatever reason, Kenny didn’t feel comfortable playing DLo.
There are games DLo plays down the stretch and games where he doesn’t. Kenny says it’s all matchup dependent and some of that is true. But, what also seems clear is that Kenny doesn’t trust that DLo will make the right decisions in crucial situations. He will never come out and say that and he can’t. Kenny has to back DLo and continue to show confidence in him publicly. But, how else should we look at Kenny’s willingness to play a 20-year-old rookie (Kurucs) 39 minutes and the “backup” point guard (Dinwiddie) over DLo? Time will tell, but for those that follow this team closely, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?
Kenny was asked postgame about not playing DLo down the stretch. Listen closely to what he’s saying.
5. Spencer Dinwiddie is playing like an all-star and sixth man of the year candidate
37 points and 11 assists. That was Dinwiddie’s stat line from Wednesday’s game. In his last 10 games, he is averaging 24.4 points per game and 6.6 assists on 40% shooting from three. These are excellent numbers for a sixth man. His per 36 averages are 22.3 and 6.5. Numbers clearly worthy of the sixth man of the year award.
With Caris LeVert being out and how Kenny decides to manage late-game situations, Dinwiddie is being given more opportunities to show how good a player he is and where he stacks up against the game’s elite. He isn’t in the class of the elite guards in the east (Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo and Kemba), but check out his numbers versus Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. Both were all-stars last year. If the Nets continue to play well and hover around that #8 seed, Dinwiddie would be a more than deserving all-star selection as well.
Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 111-103 Win Against The Suns, And Jared Dudley Comparing Deandre Ayton to a Hall of Fame Center (Video)Read Now
Here are five thoughts from the Nets’ win against the Suns on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
1. Balanced Scoring
The Nets scored 111 points against the Suns on Sunday night. The Suns were coming off a 3OT loss Saturday night to the Wizards, so there was optimism in Brooklyn that this was a game the Nets should win. It was a close game after one quarter, then the Nets stretched their lead and the Suns mounted a comeback late in the fourth.
The key for the Nets tonight was balance. They had fresher guys that were able to score and make plays when the game got tight. Six players scored in double figures for the Nets. Spencer Dinwiddie – 24, D’Angelo Russell – 18, Rodions Kurucs – 16, Ed Davis – 15, Joe Harris – 13, and Jarrett Allen – 11.
Scoring as a collective effort is something head coach Kenny Atkinson has talked about all season. Without a real “go-to guy”, though Nets fans will argue it’s Dinwiddie or Russell, this is how the Nets will have to win games as they move into the second half of the season.
The Nets scored 60 points in the paint, 30 points from behind the arc, and 21 from the free throw line. That adds up to 111. The only area on the floor the Nets failed to score from was the midrange, missing all ten attempts.
2. Fourth Quarter Inconsistency Showed Up Again
During the Nets’ win streak (7), which was snapped against the Pacers on Friday, the team cleaned up a lot of their fourth-quarter issues. They limited turnovers, trusted one another, and found continuity and flow on offense and connectivity on defense. Those attributes were missing on Sunday night, and the team looked like it was falling back into some old habits. Poor defense, lack of ball movement, and isolation on offense. The Suns outscored the Nets 29-20 in the fourth, luckily for Brooklyn, the lead was big enough and they were able to make just enough plays to close the game out.
Despite the win, Atkinson was not pleased with some of the things he saw from his team in that closing quarter. He put the onus on himself, D’Angelo and Spencer to find things that work and can be executed down the stretch.
Kenny Atkinson on fourth quarter inconsistency.
3. Rodions Kurucs first career double-double
The 6’9″ rookie from Latvia scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Kenny has said multiple times, that “Rodi” is making it hard to not play him. This is a good problem for Kenny and the Nets to have. A rookie who is progressing at a level faster than anticipated. The Nets are trying to build a culture that will produce winning, and ultimately championship, level basketball. The organization needs to know which players will be a part of that going forward. So far it looks like Rodi is one of them.
Following the game, he spoke about not even knowing he had a double-double.
Nets fans should temper their excitement. He’s still a rookie and will undoubtedly face challenges in this league. He needs to add some muscle to his frame, tighten his handle, and pick up more of the nuances of the NBA game. But, he loves the game and you can see that in the way he approaches everything and the way he plays. The other thing he possesses is confidence, and that matters a ton.
When talking postgame about the differences between the NBA and the Euroleague, he exuded all the confidence in the world.
4. Deandre Ayton for ROY?
No. I still believe Luka Doncic has been the better rookie and his play has led to winning basketball. However, let’s not pretend Ayton hasn’t been good. Especially of late. Despite the loss on Sunday, he finished with 26 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. In his last five games, he is averaging almost 23 points per game (22.8) and grabbing almost 16 rebounds (15.6). The kid is a walking double-double. He was giving Nets big man Jarrett Allen fits all night. Yes, his defense needs to improve, and he seems to disappear at times. But he will get better. Besides Devin Booker (who is excellent), Josh Jackson, and Mikal Bridges (rookie) that excites you? Give the Suns a starting level point guard or a slightly better than average point guard and this team might look a lot different. They’d certainly have more wins.
Back to Ayton. The sky’s the limit for this young man and that’s why the Suns drafted him #1 overall in June. Nets veteran and ex-Suns player Jared Dudley sees big things for Ayton. In his postgame media availability, check out who he compared Ayton to.
5. It’s Christmas
The NBA has five matchups on Christmas Day that promise to be really exciting. The Nets will be off spending time with their families and getting ready for the second half of the season. Yes, folks. By New Year’s Eve, the Nets and the rest of the NBA will be about halfway through the season.
The Nets are rolling into the holidays, winners of 8 of their last 10 and feeling good about themselves. Jared Dudley was asked postgame (by yours truly) if he had one Christmas wish for his team, what would it be? As always he was very thoughtful in his answer.
Finally, it’s Christmas time, the holiday season, etc. What does it all mean? Depending on your faith, cultural background, this time of year can mean different things to different people. One thing we can probably all agree on is, this is the season of perpetual hope, an opportunity to give thanks, time for peace on earth and good will towards others. That’s what this season means to me. To that end, thank you to all of you who read my work on the Nets, the NBA and all other content that I produce, it is greatly appreciated. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 114-106 Loss to The Pacers Plus Victor Oladipo on His Left Hand Dunk (Video)Read Now
The Nets lost to the Pacers 114-106 on Friday night in Brooklyn, here are my thoughts.
1. The win streak is over
It was bound to happen eventually. The Nets weren’t going to win all their remaining games, but it would’ve been nice to see the streak pushed to double digits. Despite the streak coming to an end, the Nets showed a lot during the loss to the Pacers on Friday night. After a terrible defensive first quarter where they gave up 37 points and fell down double digits, the Nets fought their way back and even managed to take a brief lead late in the fourth quarter. They couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch but acquitted themselves well.
There are no moral victories in sports, and Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson wanted to use this game as a measuring stick for his team. The Nets are not as good as Indiana, a team looking to make that next jump in the playoffs. But, they are a team that competes hard and has just enough to hover around playoff contention.
During his postgame comments, Atkinson talked about the team’s fight, the tough first quarter, and what’s next for his guys after the streak.
2. Kenny Atkinson got ejected in the fourth
Kenny is usually a mild-mannered guy. He has a relatively even-keeled coach and tries not to get too high or too low. But late in the fourth quarter, he was not pleased with the lack of foul calls he felt his team deserved. Following the game, Kenny said teams have to earn calls and the Nets haven’t done enough to earn the whistles from the officials.
The Nets players as a whole often feel they don’t get the “respect” from officials that other teams and players receive. That may be true, but the Nets are building something in Brooklyn. As they continue to play hard and win games they will force the officials to take notice and they will “earn” those late-game foul calls.
3. Free Throws
Despite a couple calls not going their way down the stretch, the Nets went to the free throw line 34 times on Friday night, compared to only 18 trips for the Pacers. The Nets made 24 free throws but had some crucial misses down the stretch. To beat really good teams the Nets’ margin of error is very small. They must take advantage of every opportunity and convert on free throws and capitalize on turnovers.
While the squad has a lot of fight, heart, and toughness, they are void of top-end talent. The more top talent, the larger margin of error. Yes, there were some questionable calls down the stretch but that didn’t lose the game for the Nets. There were opportunities for the Nets to pull this game out, they didn’t capitalize.
4. Rodions Kurucs first 20 point game
The second round draft pick from Latvia has been quite the revelation for Brooklyn. He has been a pleasant surprise for Atkinson and his staff. The Nets didn’t plan to play him as much as they are, but with what he’s doing on both ends of the floor, he’s earning the extended playing time. Kurucs had 24 points on 6-11 from the field, including 4-5 from three. Many of the shots were timely, either stopping an Indiana run or igniting a Nets surge. He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Nets fans should caution their excitement. He is a rookie and is bound to have some struggles in the league, that’s just how it goes. But, he wants to be good and be a part of a winning culture in Brooklyn. All good signs.
5. Victor Oladipo reads the game very well
Last season’s most improved player and an all-star. Oladipo had a slow start to his career in Orlando and Oklahoma City. The move to Indiana and his commitment to being the best player he can be has really paid off. He is capable of being the lead guy on a serious playoff contender and he’s getting better. He finished with 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. He made 8 of 14 shots, none more impressive than a drive down the lane and a left-handed dunk to finish. it ignited Indiana during the Nets fourth-quarter run and gave him even more bounce in his step.
Oladipo was perfect in the closing quarter, going 4 for 4 from the field for 14 points. He read the game very well for the first three quarters, dishing to teammates, playing good defense and taking what the game gave him. When it was winning time he was aggressive and put the team on his back and the Nets had no answers.
Following the game, Oladipo talked about his aggressive play, the left-handed dunk, and the Pacers play as we head towards Christmas and the halfway point of the season.
Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 115-110 Win Over The Lakers & HC Kenny Atkinson on Jared Dudley Being Like The 42-Yr-Old Guy at The Park Playing Pickup (Video)Read Now
Here are my thoughts from the Nets’ win over the Lakers on Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
1. Jarrett Allen’s block on LeBron set the tone
It was early in the first quarter, and LeBron received a pass and drove down a seemingly wide open lane to the rim. Jarrett Allen, defying all common sense and fear of being posterized, rotates over, elevates, and meets LeBron at the top of his jump for a huge block.
Let’s not get carried away. This wasn’t the greatest block of all time, and it didn’t create some fictitious momentum that the Nets rode all the way to a victory. But, it did set the tone for how the Nets were going to play this game. The Lakers were 18-12 heading into the game Tuesday night, and though they lost to the Wizards on Sunday, the team had been playing well and LeBron was moving up the MVP charts as he does at some point every season. This was an important game for the Nets who were on a five-game winning streak and looking to continue to build their confidence and get on the right side of .500.
Allen’s block on LeBron got his teammates up off the bench and appeared to instill a sense of confidence and belief in the squad as they withstood every Lakers’ run, and an onslaught by LeBron. More on him later.
In case you missed it, take a look at the block again.
2. Balanced scoring effort
The Nets had six players with double-digits in points on Tuesday night. D’Angelo Russell led the way with 22. Joe Harris finished with 19, Spencer Dinwiddie with 18, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 17, and DeMarre Carroll and Jared Dudley each with 13. That’s 102 of the Nets 115 points.
At the beginning of the season, Caris LeVert emerged as the team’s go-to scorer and was leading the team with almost 20 ppg. After he went down with that terrible leg injury, the Nets were going to have to win by committee. But getting to that point was a struggle. The team had lost eight games in a row before this current six-game win streak. Now that there is continuity, the Nets have an identity and everyone knows their roles, this team will be fighting all season for a shot at the playoffs. That’s a good thing.
3. Late game execution has improved dramatically
The Nets’ inability to close out games during their losing streak and all of last season is well documented. But, it’s funny what a few wins can do for a team’s confidence. After countless heartbreaking, buzzer beater losses, the team had a player’s only meeting and film session. By all accounts, it was positive and the players challenged each other to be better. So far so good.
During Tuesday night’s game when LeBron and Lonzo Ball were cutting into the Nets lead late in the fourth quarter, there was no panic from the Nets. They were confident, strong with the basketball, trusted one another and executed down the stretch.
In his postgame availability, Kenny Atkinson talked about what has changed for his team regarding late-game execution.
Another point, regarding the Nets’ late-game execution, was brought up by Lakers head coach Luke Walton in his post-game comments. Following the game he spoke about a few specific plays by Nets veteran Jared Dudley, saying:
Defensively we’ve got to do a better job. Brooklyn’s a good team, but we can’t just let players blow by us. I
think Jared Dudley had 10 points in the fourth quarter. Three of them were blow-by layups. All respect to
Dudley – he’s been a good NBA player for years – he shouldn’t be blowing by anyone at this stage of his
career. Things that we need to keep getting better at, we will. Time to let it hurt, get back home, get back
to work and get better.
This is the new NBA, so Dudley took to Twitter to respond. But it wasn’t typical shade. Dudley had a specific Xs and Os response.
Dudley set the Lakers up all game to take advantage in the fourth. That’s veteran savvy.
4. The mood around the Nets is very positive
A six-game win streak will certainly lift the spirits of any team. The Nets postgame locker room was downright giddy. Players were making jokes with each other and the assembled media. The players stopped to talk to various people in the tunnels and hallways in the bowels of the Barclays Center, expressing sheer joy.
For fans, this game is entertainment. A distraction from their everyday lives, something they hope to enjoy for a few hours a day. But for these players, this is their life. This is their career and livelihood. It’s so much nicer to come to work every day when the atmosphere is positive and light.
5. LeBron is very good at basketball
36 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists in 41 minutes of play. Another “ho-hum” stat line in the legendary career of, arguably, the greatest basketball player of all time (I currently have him #2 all-time). Last night’s performance was nothing new from Bron, we’ve seen this movie going on sixteen seasons now. We have marveled and watched this man since he was a young boy at St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in Ohio. He entered the league with the highest of expectations and has lived up to every single one of them. It truly has been incredible to watch over the years.
Despite the loss on Tuesday night, watching Bron, was like watching a truly exceptional artist at work. He knows every angle, location, and ball trajectory. His brain is like a computer, calculating every potential move with a counter in a matter of seconds. When the Lakers were making their run late in the fourth he was unstoppable, as he so often is. He got to whatever spot he wanted, whenever he wanted and hit his teammates with pinpoint passes that led to scores. Yes, the Lakers lost this game. But the presence of LeBron is the rising tide that lifts all ships.
Kenny Atkinson loves his guys and is particularly fond of veteran Jared Dudley. He used an old man playing pick up hoops analogy to describe JD
Here are my thoughts from the Nets 144-127 victory over the Hawks in Brooklyn on Sunday.
This was the number of points the Nets scored on Sunday in their victory over the Hawks, a season high. 144 is the second most number of points the team has scored in a regulation game in franchise history (behind a franchise-record 147 points at Detroit 4/17/82) and the most points the Nets have scored in a regulation home game in franchise history (previous high: 131 points on 3/15/16 vs. Philadelphia).
Yes, this was against the lowly Atlanta Hawks who are 6-23, the worst team in the league with a -10.8 point differential. Also, worst in the league. But a win is a win.
The number of assists the Nets dished out against the Hawks. Sunday marked the third consecutive games the Nets recorded 30 or more assists. More importantly, the ball is moving, and head coach Kenny Atkinson is pleased with the team’s connectivity and energy on the offensive end. They are passing up good shots for great ones, and that has been key in their excellent play of late.
Kenny talked about the team’s ball movement in his postgame comments.
That is the number of turnovers, starting point guard D’Angelo Russell had on Sunday. Again, this was against the Hawks and rookie point guard Trae Young was guarding him, so not the stiffest competition. But, for someone with a usage rate as high as Russell’s to have no turnovers in 29 minutes is incredible. He finished with 32 points, 7 assists, and was a +23. This was easily one of Russell’s three best games as a Net. We’ve talked before about his future with the team, and it is uncertain at this point. But, he has talent and when he plays well it contributes to winning basketball.
That is the combined points of the Atlanta Hawks’ young stars John Collins and Trae Young. Collins finished with 29 and Young with 13. In a blowout loss, that isn’t much consolation. However, the Nets were up 19 points heading into the 2nd quarter and the Hawks cut it to two with 1:38 left. Collins and Young were key cogs in that run. The Hawks are not a good basketball team, record-wise, but they are a talented team and Atkinson pointed that out in his postgame comments.
Russell agreed with his coach’s sentiments and applauded the young stars despite getting blown out.
That is the number of games the Nets are behind the Orlando Magic, who currently sit in the eighth spot in the playoff race. You’re probably thinking it’s too early to be thinking about playoffs. We are 9 days out from Christmas and by New Year’s Eve half the season will be complete. Atkinson, general manager Sean Marks, and the players all talk about wanting to make the playoffs. A playoff berth would be a positive step for the Nets and continue to build on the culture Atkinson and Marks have started. But, 2019 is the first year the Nets own their own draft pick, and in a loaded class it would be nice to have a pick in the top 4.
We’ve detailed it before, tanking is not how Atkinson and Marks think, so the Nets will go for it. To that end, they’ll need to continue to beat up on teams below them in the standings like the Hawks. They’ll need to run off more winning streaks like the one they’re currently on.
Canelo Dominates Fielding at The Garden; Here Are Five Opponents We’d Like to See Him Fight Next (Video)Read Now
Ok, so let’s get the important stuff out of the way first. BSO was ringside for Canelo vs Rocky and we predicted a 5th round KO. Turned out Rocky Fielding couldn’t handle that punching power for five rounds. Canelo Alvarez dropped him four times in a third-round TKO to take the secondary super middleweight world title.
From the opening bell, Canelo’s plan of attack was clear. Get into the body of Rocky and chop him down with those heavy punches and then attack the head. Sitting ringside you could feel the punching power of Alvarez, which is every bit as hard and heavy as one could imagine. Fielding had no answers, and aside from a flurry of exchanges in the third, he could not withstand the hits.
According to CompuBox, Canelo landed 52% of his total punches (73 of 141), with 91% of those being power punches. Alvarez kept coming forward and swinging those massive rights and lefts like anvils to Rocky’s body. Following the fight, Rocky had to acknowledge what the sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden and every boxing fan knows, saying:
Canelo is an elite fighter, and I never shied away from a challenge. It was a great week, met some great people. I lived a dream. Hats off to Canelo. I respect him. He’s strong. I was catching some shots, but he kept coming forward. The body shots were really tough. He placed his shots well, and he caught me. I stood there too long and tried to mix with him. I gave it everything, and the better man won.
This was Canelo’s first fight at 168 pounds and he looked very good and strong. He didn’t have to dehydrate to make his weight and following the fight, talked about his game plan against Rocky and fighting at super middleweight.
That was the plan in the gym, to hit the body and then move up [to the head], and that’s the result. You see the result here. [I feel] very good, very strong. I didn’t have to dehydrate myself to make weight. I feel good, and I feel strong.
This was Canelo’s first fight with subscription streaming service DAZN, who gave the champ a very lucrative 5 year – $365 million dollar contract for 11 fights. The numbers haven’t been posted yet, but Canelo proved he could sell out Madison Square Garden, even with a less heralded opponent. That fact will go a long way in helping DAZN cement itself as a preferred platform for fight fans.
Now that Canelo’s work for the year is done, all eyes turn to May 4th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions have the venue booked and it will be Canelo’s next fight. The question on everyone’s mind is, who will that next opponent be? Now that Canelo has shown success at 168 pounds, the possibilities are endless.
We have some thoughts on whom we’d like to see Canelo fight.
1. Canelo vs GGG The Trilogy
This fight is very likely. The first two contests were very entertaining and the series stands at 1-1. We have to have a tiebreaker right?
2. Canelo vs Jacobs
The IBF middleweight champion was ringside for Canelo v Rocky and saw the dismantling up close and personal. He was very impressed with the champ and said a fight with Canelo is very possible, via Sky Sports:
He [Canelo] looked phenomenal. The body shots were perfect, Fielding had no answers. It was a great performance from Canelo, he did what he had to do and I’m happy for him. That’s a fight [Canelo vs Jacobs] that is very possible. With [David] Lemieux unfortunately being out now with health issues, there’s even more of a stronger possibility that the fight can happen. Me being champion helps also. I’m not sure if they want to do the trilogy with [Gennady] Golovkin. It’s time for the fans to see something different, I guess a new champion.
That would be an entertaining fight. Danny Jacobs went the distance with GGG and is a champion in his own right. Canelo is three years younger, and that punching power might be too much for Jacobs. But, they don’t call him “The Miracle Man” for nothing.
3. Canelo vs Smith
Callum Smith is the #1 super middleweight, and Ring/WBA champ. If Canelo decides to stay at 168, this would be a serious fight. Smith demolished Rocky Fielding and is a big man with punching power. Canelo liked how strong he is at this weight, but De La Hoya said he was leery of having Canelo fight the top super middleweights. Smith is promoted by Eddie Hearn and is a DAZN fighter, so we shall see.
4. Canelo vs Andrade
Demetrius Andrade, another one of Hearn’s fighters and a DAZN guy has repeatedly called for a fight with Canelo. He is looking for legitimacy since claiming the vacant WBO middleweight title in October. Not sure he has the cachet or ability to go toe-to-toe with the champ. But you know who does…
5. Canelo vs Charlo
Jermall that is. The WBC interim middleweight champion is Canelo’s mandatory challenger. A term with less relevance these days, but is what it is. We know all the reasons this fight won’t happen. Charlo is an Al Haymon/PBC fighter and their partners are Fox and Showtime. Canelo, as we’ve already detailed, is the franchise fighter for DAZN. This minutiae and fight over money by corporations is why the casual fan will never get into boxing they way they could.
All that aside, at middleweight, this would be a hell of a battle. Charlo is undefeated with 21 of his 27 victories coming by KO. He has confidence, style, and swag for days. The leadup to any potential fight would be legendary. Charlo talked about Canelo via Sky Sports, saying:
The mandatory means nothing in boxing anymore, so I have to take a different route. … He’s challenging at 168 pounds, another division that’s in my near future, and if Canelo chooses to campaign there, I will chase him up to 168 pounds and I can fight him there, too. I’m bigger than him and better than him, it’s just I don’t have as many fights as he’s had, but that means nothing. I am ready to fight him whenever. In any division, in every division.
Could you even imagine? But, I wouldn’t hold my breath fight fans.
Here are my thoughts from the Nets win over the Wizards in Brooklyn on Friday night.
1. Spencer Dinwiddie
In his first game since “securing the bag”, aka signing his 3 year/$34 million contract extension, he was the best player on the floor for the Nets. He came off the bench to score 27 points, grab 4 rebounds, and hand out 6 assists. He was steady down the stretch as usual, when the game tightened up.
Everyone is familiar with Dinwiddie’s story. A second-round pick by the Pistons, cut, played in the G league. No matter the obstacle, Dinwiddie always believed he belonged and could play in the league and bet on himself. It has paid off in his third season with the team, as he’s earned a contract extension which means he’ll likely be with the team for two more years and he can, as he proudly said pregame, “retire his parents” for all they’ve done for him.
Spencer Dinwiddie pregame on his contract extension.
2. Lost the 4th quarter battle but won the war
The Nets were outscored 33-24 by the Wizards in the fourth but were able to execute and close out the game, their fourth win in a row. Prior to their current win streak, the team was on an eight-game losing streak. A common theme was the inability to execute down the stretch. On Friday night when the Wizards cut the lead to four points on two separate occasions late in the fourth, the Nets responded with scores and stops to kill any momentum that was building. This was another important step for a team that is continuing to build good habits and create a culture conducive for winning basketball and team success.
After the game, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about being able to close the game out.
Kenny Atkinson’s postgame comments.
The trio combined for 49 points (on 30 shot attempts), 17 rebounds, and 13 assists. Whether it was Harris’ timely buckets (namely a late three), RHJ’s energy, and hustle, or Kurucs’ nose for the ball, these three were critical for the team’s win on Friday. One of the team’s areas of strength is their player development group. GM Sean Marks talked about the staff and how they work with the players intensely on improving the finer nuances of their games and how it translates to on-court success.
Harris is under contract and will be with the team going forward and Kurucks was a second-round pick in the 2018 draft and looks to be a nice find for the Nets. For Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this coming summer. The Nets like him and he definitely wants to be a part of this franchise moving forward. But with the draft, free agency, and the team’s pending cap space, there will be some tough decisions to make. Time will tell if he and the Nets will are long-term partners.
The Nets outrebounded the Wizards 56-37, and honestly, it didn’t seem that close watching the game live. Whether it was effort (sometimes), or positioning, or luck; the Nets seemingly got their hands on every single rebound. Six Nets players grabbed five or more rebounds on Friday night. Keeping an offensive possession alive or finishing a good defensive possession by securing the rebound certainly made Atkinson and the coaching staff happy.
5. Free Throws
The Nets had more makes (26) than the Wizards had attempts (13). This was a sign of their aggressiveness but also playing the game as it was being dictated. The Wizards ran out on the Nets three-point shooters at various points during the game, opening up driving lanes and the Nets converted. Being initiators and playing with force is something Atkinson and his staff want to see more of, but as always it’s about finding the ideal “balance” between letting it fly from behind the arc and attacking the paint.
Five Thoughts From Nets' 106-105 OT Win Over The Raptors; And Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on Locking Up Kawhi Leonard on The Final Play (Video)Read Now
Here are my thoughts from the Nets 106-105 overtime win against the Raptors in Brooklyn Friday night.
1. The Law of Averages
So this is a common belief that’s actually a fallacy. There is no empirical evidence that proves an outcome will occur because the said outcome has not recently occurred. For the Brooklyn Nets, their recent 8 game slide, and the manner in which they lost these games seemed to suggest they were “due” to win a close one eventually. Again this is false. But, the Nets were able to pull this one out. Call it luck, fortune, a gift from the gods, whatever. The Nets executed down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime and got a much-needed win over the best team in the eastern conference.
The Nets followed a familiar script during the first half of this game. They had two separate runs of 13-0 and 12-2, in the first and second quarters respectively. The NBA is often referred to as a game of runs, so in and of itself these were nothing remarkable. But, in both of these runs, the Nets defense keyed their offense. They got stops, communicated well and were able to execute on the offensive end. The type of play they have been unable to sustain late in games during the losing streak.
Prior to the game in his media availability, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and his staff let the players conduct a players-only film session. Whatever went on during that session (the players were tight-lipped about it post-game) seemed to have a positive impact on the collective squad.
3. Three Point Defense
Both teams shot 11-35 from three, that’s a 31% conversion rate. Both teams did a pretty good job of defending the three. The closeouts and communication on display were really fun to watch down the stretch of the game. Kawhi Leonard and D’Angelo Russell both got free for a wide-open three late in the game, but this was clearly a point of emphasis for both teams. With the continued emphasis on taking threes, it was nice to see a game where teams made a concerted effort to guard 30 feet from the rim.
4. Rondae Hollis Jefferson’s Isolation Defense on Kawhi Leonard
You’ve heard the saying, “good offense beats good defense.” In the NBA it is commonly accepted that when a player gets to his preferred spot on the floor there is nothing the defense can do. At that point, the shot will either go in or it won’t. It is every player’s belief the make or miss is entirely on him and the defense is irrelevant. The Nets have been on the business end of that scenario too man times during their losing streak. They fell victim to Jimmy Butler, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Paul George just to name a few. Kawhi Leonard looked like he was going to be the next player to do it to the Nets, but that wasn’t to be on Friday night.
Kawhi actually had a chance to end the game in regulation and he got to the midrange and a preferred spot on the floor for him and his 12 footer went halfway down and out.
At the end of overtime with another chance to win, the Nets best perimeter defender Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not let Kawhi get to his preferred spot and forced him to give up the ball, and the subsequent closeout on Kyle Lowry led to a Fred Van Vleet three-point attempt. If you’re the Nets, that’s who you want taking the three.
Following the game, RHJ talked about his defense.
5. D’Angelo Russell & Jarrett Allen Strive For Consistency
Russell had 29 points and 5 assists. Allen finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. Both players had timely plays down the stretch of regulation and overtime. With Caris LeVert out, Russell and Allen are being leaned on more than Atkinson would probably like. But, he’s fond of saying they don’t hold anything back with their young budding stars. Of course, the challenge with young players is consistency. For as good as they were down the stretch of Friday’s win, they’ve had some equally poor play in crucial moments during the losing streak. The better players in the league are able to manage the ups and downs of an 82 game season and provide consistent play. That is where Atkinson hopes Russell and Allen get to, eventually. Prior to the game, I asked him about the challenge of young guys finding consistency.
Five Thoughts From The Nets' 114-112 Loss to The Thunder And Paul George’s Message to Those Making Fun of His Game Winning Shooting Stats (Video)Read Now
Here are my thoughts from the Nets tough 114-112 loss to the Thunder.
46 and 68. Those were the OKC Thunder point totals in the first and second half respectively. In the first half, the Nets did a good job of closing out defensive possessions by securing the rebound. They were able to run out on offense, put the ball in the hoop and settle back and load their defense, in the first half. The Thunder shot 36% from the field, including 33% from three. Some of that was their own ineptitude, but give the Nets credit, they were aggressive, closed out to shooters well, and held their own on the glass (in the first half) against the best rebounding team in the league.
But, the game is four quarters and as has been the case with the Nets lately, they could not sustain it down the stretch. The Thunder shot 51% from the field and 35% from three in the second half. But, Brooklyn had the lead, 93-75 going into the fourth quarter.
2. Fourth Quarter Execution
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Nets were unable to execute down the stretch and gave away a lead in the closing quarter. Paul George went bonkers, so that was part of it. More on him in a moment. But for the Nets, shots that were falling in the first three quarters and even early in the fourth, stopped falling as the game tightened. We say this all the time. The NBA is a make or miss league. The Thunder made in the fourth when it mattered most, the Nets missed.
There were three key moments where the Nets really needed a conversion and they missed on shots they were connecting on with regularity all game.
Some of the Nets inability to execute was due to the Thunder’s ramped up pressure, physicality, and intensity. Thunder big man Steven Adams talked about it postgame.
Still, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased with what he was getting from his team offensively in the fourth. Saying in his postgame availability, “it was about missed opportunities.
3. Paul George
If you give OKC Thunder fans truth serum, they would rather have Kevin Durant. But PG-13 did his best KD “Lite” impression on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. Through three quarters he was 6-15 for 22 points, 9 rebounds 3 assists, and a -7 rating. Something clicked for him in the third though. In his postgame media availability, he said, “I hit a shot, and felt I was in rhythm.” I asked about his aggressive fourth quarter postgame.
Sometimes that’s all these guys need. They need to see a particular shot go in, from a particular spot on the floor and then the floodgates open. PG-13 was “in the zone” in the 4th quarter. He outscored the Nets 25-19 in the final frame. He was 9-12 from the field, including 4-6 from three, and was a +19. This was a virtuoso performance, that included the game-winning three from the right side. He finished with 47 points, 15 rebounds, and 4 assists.
On that final play, Russell Westbrook had the ball and Allen Crabbe (PG-13’s defender) inexplicably lost track of PG-13 and doubled Russ. That left PG-13 wide open for the winning bucket. Following the game, Russ talked about baiting the defense into a double team and the obvious pass to PG-13 who had it going.
Did you know, that was PG-13’s first make on a go-ahead attempt with 10 seconds or less left in the fourth quarter or overtime? Previously, he was 0-14 on those shots in his career. Following the game, PG-13 had a message for those people who like to make jokes or memes regarding his late-game futility.
Regardless of the type of character guys, the Nets have in the locker room and they have great veterans like Jared Dudley, Ed Davis, and DeMarre Carroll, this loss will have an impact on team morale. This is the team’s eighth loss in a row and sixth straight at home. In those six home losses, the average margin is only 5 points. The team is in every single one of these games down the stretch, but for one reason or another cannot seem to hold on to leads or convert.
We’ve detailed it before, the loss of Caris LeVert is a major factor on both ends of the floor, but he was just coming into his own as a potential all-star in the league. A common denominator in these losses has been that the other teams have top-end, all NBA caliber talent to close games out (see PG-13, Jimmy Butler, Jaren Jackson Jr, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell) and the Nets can’t match that.
5. Triple Doubles
Russell Westbrook had his 108th career triple-double to pass ex-Nets star and coach Jason Kidd for third in NBA history. A major accomplishment no doubt. But, we go a little overboard with this triple-double celebration. It’s completely understandable. The human brain, while complex, also prefers simplicity. Round numbers make it easy to quantify things and makes math less intimidating.
In Russ’ 2016-2017 MVP season he averaged 31, 10, and 10. The first time an NBA player has averaged a triple-double since the great Oscar Robertson. He had to win the MVP, it was a historical achievement. The following season he averaged 25, 10, and 10. He led the league in triple-doubles again, every night there was an alert or crawl along the bottom of the screen letting us know. But he didn’t sniff the MVP conversation. Weird, right?
A nice footnote and something that will go on his Hall of Fame plaque someday, but we need to look at these counting stats in context and talk intelligently about what they really mean and how they impact wins and losses.
Russ was honored to pass Jason Kidd and talked about it postgame.
Alec Burks on His Game Winning Dunk Against The Nets, And What It’s Like to Be Traded Minutes Before Tip-Off (Video)Read Now
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets 99-97 on Monday night. Cavs guard Alec Burks drove the lane, went behind his back with the dribble for the dunk that put his team ahead with 3.2 seconds remaining. The Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie missed a subsequent three at the buzzer. All in all, it was a good evening in Brooklyn for Burks, who finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and was a +11.
Less than a week ago, Burks was on the floor of the Barclays Center participating in pregame warmups as a member of the Utah Jazz. He was pulled off the court minutes before tip-off and told he was being traded to Cleveland. A cold reminder that the NBA is a business and players can be moved at a moment’s notice.
Burks has only been with his new team for three games, but he appreciated the confidence the coaching staff and his teammates had in him by drawing up that last play. There is familiarity on this roster for Burks as he rejoins his former Jazz teammates Rodney Hood and George Hill.
Following the game, Burks talked about the winning play and told BSO what it was like to come back to the arena where he found out about the trade and score the winning bucket, and what his future holds in Cleveland.