Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 109-102 Victory Over The Celtics, Including Trolling And D’Angelo Russell’s Big Night (Video)Read Now
Here are five thoughts from the Nets, tighter than it should have been, 109-102 victory over the Celtics in Brooklyn on Monday night.
1. D’Angelo Russell was feeling it on Monday night
Let’s begin with the raw counting stats. 34 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Russell was 13 of 26 from the field (50%) including 7 of 13 from three (53%). Russell was incredible. In the third quarter alone he scored 18 points, made four of his seven threes, and was a +20. We are often critical of Russell, because of his inconsistency, but he played well Monday night.
During the fourth quarter, he did miss his only two shots and turned the ball over three times, as the Nets looked like they were about to give the game away. But, this is all part of the growing and maturation process. In his postgame comments Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said of Russell:
There are things we can improve. I will talk to our 22-year-old point guard (Russell) about being more secure with the ball…but there is no fear in him. He has tremendous confidence in himself, and he’s playing really well right now.
The Nets are dealing with injuries to key players and Russell will have to step up in their absence. This team is currently in the #7 spot for the playoffs, and though they won’t make a big deal about it, making the playoffs is a very important goal this team wants to achieve. Russell will be a huge factor in determining whether or not they reach that goal.
D’Angelo Russell talked about his play and the team postgame.
2. There are levels to winning in the NBA
A win, is a win, is a win. Yes, that’s true. But there are stages of development for young teams and franchises looking to build a winning culture. GM Sean Marks, Atkinson and the Nets brass want this to eventually be a championship winning franchise. You don’t go from 0 to 100 just like that. It takes time. There are levels to this.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Nets held a 90-66 lead. They exploded for 44 points in the third quarter (led by the aforementioned Russell) and held the Celtics to 21 points. To the casual fan, it looked like Brooklyn would cruise to an easy victory. This is the NBA and leads are never certain given the pace of play, and the Nets are young and still learning how to put teams away.
With 1:28 remaining in the game, the Celtics whittled the Nets lead down to 7. It was tense for the young guys from Brooklyn, but the growing pains and hard lessons they’ve experienced over the last couple seasons are paying dividends. Last season they would have completely melted down and lost this game. Earlier this season, during their losing streak, they would have likely lost this game as well. But, they have come a long way, and while they still get tight and sometimes make poor decisions down the stretch, they bounce back much quicker and believe in one another.
Following the game, Kenny Atkinson talked about the win, D’Angelo, and the playoffs.
3. Spencer Dinwiddie is in a slump
Prior to the game, Atkinson addressed the comments he made about Spencer Dinwiddie being in a slump. Dinwiddie took to Twitter to laugh off the assertion by his head coach that he was experiencing any kind of slump.
Atkinson said “slump” was poor word choice in talking about Dinwiddie, but the two men spoke and all is well. There is no reason to think this is anything more than frustration after a loss and less than stellar play from one of the team’s best players.
But the reality is, Dinwiddie is not playing as well as he did through Christmas. He was very quiet against the Celtics, finishing with 5 points. In his last 5 games he is shooting 37% from the field, 26% from three, and averaging just under 11 points per game. This is down from his season averages of 45%, 36%, and 16.7. It’s a small sample size, but he has been trending down the last 9 games.
Again, this team is looking to make the playoffs and build something big in Brooklyn. Dinwiddie is a crucial piece to their success.
4. Jarrett Allen
Brooklyn’s second-year big man is developing very nicely and looks like he has the potential to be a Clint Capela type player for the Nets. A borderline all-star, rim running shot blocking big, who can also step out and space the floor. We have a ways to go before Allen is consistently that type of player, but he has shown the ability and temperament to be that player for Brooklyn. Allen finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and was a +13. Atkinson refers to Allen as the team’s “goalie” often erasing defensive mistakes made out on the perimeter.
The young nucleus of this Nets roster is very talented and if they are able to make the playoffs this year and gain some valuable experience, Brooklyn would be a very intriguing destination for a top tier free agent this summer.
Jarrett Allen postgame on his play and whether or not he pays attention to the standings.
5. What is going on in Boston?
The Celtics began the season with lofty expectations. This was a team one game away from advancing to the NBA Finals last season, without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. Conventional wisdom said, insert those two players and this is a championship caliber team that could win 60+ games and legitimately threaten the Golden State Warriors.
We are halfway through the season and they sit at 25-18, 7 games back of the #1 seed in the east. They are on pace to finish 48-34, worse than last year’s 54 win eastern conference finals team. The team is 5-5 in their last 10 and there appears to be some tension internally. Irving recently came out with strong comments after a loss to Orlando, saying:
Irving did not play Monday night in the loss to the Nets. But the Nets fans had a little fun trolling the Celtics fans in attendance regarding Irving.
Following the loss to the Nets, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens talked about the loss and the team’s struggles this season, saying:
That’s a lot of our story last year – we got behind. But we didn’t get drubbed and get behind (tonight).
We were able to figure a way to come back because of the way our guys played that were on the court. I
just told the team that I really appreciate the way those guys played in the fourth quarter. We were
guarding for three quarters tonight. We chose one of the middle ones to take off. The third quarter
defense was awful.
The Celtics Jaylen Brown offered his thoughts as well, saying:
We’ve got to have each other’s back at the end of the day. We can’t point fingers. We’ve just got to
continue to empower each other and continue to have each other’s back because if we don’t and we start
pointing fingers, then everyone’s going to go into their own little shell. We’ve got to continue to play
basketball. It starts from the top to the bottom, not the bottom to the top, but from the top to the
bottom, so we’ve got to continue to empower each other and make the best of this. We’ve got a lot of
talent. We know what we’re capable of doing. It’s just a matter of going out and doing it. Playing free,
playing loose and having fun.
It’s looking tense up in Boston. At the end of the day, this is still a playoff team and Brad Stevens is an excellent coach. But what Stevens and the Celtics are finding out is, it’s different when you have no expectations. You can play free and with ease, because nobody expects anything. But living up to expectations is a whole different game. There are indeed levels to this.