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.