Five Thoughts From The Nets' 110-96 Win Over The Celtics, Including D'Angelo "Ice in My Veins" Russell (Video)Read Now
The Brooklyn Nets secured a much needed win over the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center on Saturday night, as they push towards the playoffs. Here are some thoughts.
1. D'Angelo Russel's third quarter
DLo finished the game with 29 points, 10 assists and was a +24. He scored 20 of those points in the third quarter, where the Nets pushed their lead. He scored in a variety of ways, threes, floaters, and layups. DLo has been the bellwether for this team. When he has good games and is efficient scoring the ball, the Nets usually win. He was electric in the third, with the help of an attacking Caris LeVert (more on him later) and that was the deciding quarter. He almost matched the Celtics in scoring for the quarter, as they only scored 22 points. The lead never got below double digits.
DLo talked to the YES Network's Michael Grady following the game.
2. Nets' defense
It was much better on Saturday night than it had been on their recent 2-5 road trip. Brooklyn held the Celtics to 96 points on 42% shooting. In the deciding third quarter, the Celtics shot 38% and turned the ball over six times. To be fair, this was the second night of a back to back for the Celtics, and they were without their best player, Kyrie Irving, and Al Horford. Still in all, a win is a win. The Nets clamped down defensively, especially in the third, but it really began with increased effort in the second quarter.
Brooklyn grabbed 35 defensive rebounds, 72% of what was available in the game. They closed out possessions well and limited second chance opportunities.
3. Caris LeVert's rim attacks
It wasn't a particularly stellar stat line for LeVert. He finished with 15 points on 5-13 from the floor, and he was a -7. His shot distribution is what was interesting. Of his 13 shots, 9 were inside the free throw line, with the remaining 4 shots from three. LeVert has been uneven in his play, since returning from injury just before the all-star break. But, that was expected. His timing and rhythm are off and likely won't return until next season. Unfortunate, as he emerged as a real go to guy, earlier in the season.
Regardless, LeVert's attacks put pressure on the defense all night and he was able to draw three fouls with his drives. His ability to do that in the playoffs and convert at a higher clip will be critical not only to his development, but the team's overall growth, as they hope to make the playoffs.
4. Playoff mode activated
The Nets have five games remaining on their schedule, and to be safe they are likely going to need to win at least two of the next five. That would give them a .500 record for the season. That won't be easy. Two of the five are against the east leading Bucks, one against the Raptors, one against the Pacers, and a final game against the #8 seed Heat. All playoff teams, who besides the Bucks and Raptors, are still battling for seeding.
This is uncharted territory for Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson and his players. But their fate lie in their own hands. If they win, they're in. That makes it pretty simple.
Atkinson talked about the team's position pregame.
5. Nets' bench celebrations remain the best
This Nets team has been pulling for each other all season long. When you're in the arena at the games, you can feel the joy and energy from the guys on the bench as they support the players on the floor. Theo Pinson is the leader of the bench mob celebrations.
During DLo's hot third quarter, the bench players couldn't contain themselves. It may seem like a small thing, but team chemistry on a squad with no playoff experience, trying to make the playoffs, is huge.