Five Thoughts From Nets 127-125 Loss to The 76ers, And Jimmy Butler on Knowing He Would Get to His Spot For The Game Winner (Video)Read Now
The Nets suffered a heartbreaking loss in Brooklyn on Sunday night to the Philadelphia 76ers, 127-125. Brooklyn led most of the way, carrying a 14 point lead at halftime and a 13 point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game featured a ton of shot making and huge plays offensively and defensively. Here are some thoughts from a thrilling contest.
1. D’Angelo Russell And Spencer Dinwiddie Were Really Good
The two combined for 69 points on 43 shots, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. They were efficient and came up with big shots to build the lead and stop various runs by the 76ers. Russell started and had his best game as a Net, finishing with 38, 8 and 8. I wrote about him in my Thanksgiving column. He has an opportunity, with the Caris LeVert injury, to prove to Nets coaches and management that he is a key piece in the team’s plan for the future. Dlo was decisive Sunday night, showed the kind of full-court dominance that led to him being the #2 overall pick in the 2015 draft. It’s a shame this stat line came in a loss. But if he can show consistency the rest of this season, he will leave the Nets with no choice but to re-sign him to a lucrative extension this summer.
When Dinwiddie is hot from behind the arc, this is what his game looks like. In 29 minutes off the bench, he finished with 31 points, including 4-5 from deep. He’s such a steady player for head coach Kenny Atkinson and plays within himself and the system. He has a knack for knowing exactly what the team needs at specific points in the game. The team will have a choice to make with him as well this summer.
If both players can play to their full potential and consistently this season, the Nets will have some interesting and tough decisions to make. Speaking of consistency…
2. Nets Defensive Effort Was a Tale of Two Halves, Sort Of…
Just looking at raw counting stats, the Nets held the 76ers to 54 points in the first half but gave up 73 points in the second half. On its face that doesn’t look good and was a problem this team had last season. The inability to play consistently for a full 48 minutes seemed to rear its ugly head at points this season but that wasn’t totally the case on Sunday.
Yes, the Nets did show some defensive slippage, but the pace of play picked up in the second half as well which contributed to the higher score. The 76ers hit some really tough shots in the face of pretty good defense. One of the problems was the defense fouled too much down the stretch.
Atkinson talked to the media postgame about the team’s defensive effort.
3. Free Throw Battle
The Nets were outscored 27-15 on the free throw line, and the 76ers had 33 attempts to only 20 by the Nets. Understanding time, score, and foul situation are among the most basic keys to playing winning basketball. The Nets focus and attention to detail wanes at times. There were a few key possessions late where Nets defenders left their feet and fouled jump shooters in the act. The Nets big men (Ed Davis and Jarrett Allen) in particular had a rough go of things combining for 10 fouls. To be fair, they had to guard All NBA Center Joel Embiid who finished with 32 points and 12 rebounds. That dude is a monster.
On the perimeter, Dinwiddie and Joe Harris combined for 8 fouls and had tough moments keeping Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons out of the paint. Again, these are All NBA players, so you’re going to have difficulty with them. But, it’s an area the Nets need to show improvement in.
16 turnovers in a vacuum isn’t a bad number. The Nets average just slightly over 14 per game. But when you factor in pace and the type of turnovers, 16 doesn’t look so great. Brooklyn is in the bottom quarter of the league in average possessions per game at just under 103. With limited possessions in close games, live ball turnovers are costly and spark runs by the opponent. Late in Sunday’s game when the offense got a little stagnant, there were a few costly turnovers.
5. Top End Talent Matters So Much
The cliches that exist around the NBA are all true and Sunday’s game proved them. In no other sport does top end talent have such a demonstrable impact. The Nets were leading most of the game as mentioned. But in the end, the 76ers have Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, and Ben Simmons. As well as Dlo and Dinwiddie played, it wasn’t enough. Having more guys that can get and make their own shots are how big games are won in this league. The 76ers have proven big shot takers and makers.
Watch Jimmy Butler at the end of the game.
Confidence is a mother****, after the game I asked Jimmy can anything be done when he gets to his spot on the floor.