Five Thoughts From The Nets' 101-85 Win Over The Spurs, Including a Three Point Barrage & The Lighter Side of Gregg Popovich (Video)Read Now
Here are five thoughts from the Nets' 101-85 win over the Spurs at The Barclays Center Monday night.
1. Nets started the week off right
We've discussed the monster of a schedule the Nets have coming up in March. Monday night was the start of a brief three-game homestand. The Nets are currently the #6 seed in the playoff race, but only 3.5 games separate them from the Orlando Magic, who are out of the playoffs. It is important that the Nets "bank" as many home games as possible since they will be on the road for the majority of March.
Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about the importance of playing well at home in his pregame comments.
Following the game, Caris LeVert echoed Kenny's sentiments.
Monday night's win over the Spurs was an excellent start to the week. They were physical on defense and shot the ball well from three. Though the Spurs are sputtering of late, 1-7 in their last 8 games, it's still a Gregg Popovich coached team. After getting blown out by the Knicks on Sunday night, it would stand to reason that the Spurs would be better. But the Nets took it to them and really broke the game open in the second quarter. Speaking of...
2. Caris LeVert's 12-point second quarter run
Monday night was the best Caris has looked since his return to the lineup from injury. He finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. But it was a personal 12-2 run in the second quarter that helped push the Nets' lead to 14 at halftime.
Caris was aggressive going downhill, finishing at the rim, his floater looked good and he hit a couple threes. The biggest sign that Caris is "back" is the fearlessness and relentless energy in his attack. The rhythm and timing on his jump shot will come with time. The other important thing is he and D'Angelo Russell appear to be developing their on-court chemistry. Remember, these two haven't logged a lot of on-court minutes together. DLo was hurt last season and Caris was hurt for the majority of this season.
Following the game, Caris talked about the team win.
3. Nets blitzed the Spurs from the three-point line
Brooklyn made 19 threes to only 4 for San Antonio. That's a recipe for a blowout. Joe Harris and DLo each connected on five from deep. Defensively, the Nets ran the Spurs off the three-point line and closed out to shooters very well. That defensive strategy means the Spurs would take more midrange shots which they are pretty good at converting.
4. The King and Crown Prince of the midrange
DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge take the most shots in the league in the midrange. Both were efficient last night finishing with 23 points (9-14) and 26 points (12-21) respectively. In a league that prioritizes the three, these two and the Spurs as a whole are a throwback. Despite playing that "old school" type of basketball, the Spurs have an offensive rating of 112.1. That's good enough for #7 in the league.
That's the Spurs. They often zig when the league zags, and that's due in large part to their Hall of Fame coach, Gregg Popovich.
5. Gregg Popovich
5X champion, 3X coach of the year, and 22 seasons at the helm of the San Antonio Spurs. Pop has built a legendary career and has coached some of the best players this league has ever seen. He is no doubt in the twilight of his career, but he's still a competitor and enjoys the nuances and the beauty of the game.
Prior to Monday's game against the Nets, Pop held court with the assembled media and waxed poetically on a variety of topics. His team's offense and defense, the men's national team, his coaching tree, Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson. Pop also has a funny interaction with yours truly. Enjoy!