After two marquee wins against two of the league’s bigger teams, the Brooklyn Nets came crashing down to Earth Friday night.
The struggling Boston Celtics snapped the Nets’ four-game winning streak in a wire-to-wire win. Despite 28 turnovers, the Celtics staved off the Nets, 91-84, and dropped Brooklyn back to .500 at 30-30.
The Celtics entered the game with 41 losses and conceded their previous contest to the Golden State Warriors by 20 points. The Celtics played like they had a chip on their shoulder as Paul Pierce returned to town. Rajon Rondo bested his former teammate, notching 20 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds.
While Rondo, a limited shooter, knocked down three of his six three-point attempts, the Nets could not throw the ball into the ocean. That did not stop them from trying, though. The Nets managed a meager 4-for-30 shooting from beyond the arc. Newcomer Marcus Thornton missed all six of his three-pointers, and Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Pierce combined to shoot 3-for-19 from three.
“We need to keep working, keep grinding and understand we can't take anyone lightly,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
During their winning streak, the Nets made a large percentage of the shots they missed Friday night in Boston. They missed those same shots against the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors when they ventured out west.
The fact is, the Nets are a team content with living and dying by the jumper. That’s how they’re built, and Brook Lopez won’t spring out of a boot to come save them any time this season. Luckily for the Nets, their roster features some of the league’s best shooters. Conversely, isolation jumpers do not make for a lengthy playoff run.
The Celtics forced the Nets to play at their pace. Even though the Nets dictated play against the larger Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, the Celtics ran the show. Even with an abundance of turnovers, the Celtics grabbed 23 more rebounds than the Nets. Jared Sullinger grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, and he played predominantly against Andray Blatche. Blatche, who stands at two inches taller than Sullinger, hauled in a modest three boards.
The Nets have established their offense. They will go one-and-done and try to swarm bigger teams on defense. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. When teams choose to live and die by the jumper, games like the one against the Celtics can crop up from time to time.
The Nets won’t walk away from Boston all that dejected because they will attribute the loss to open misses. The Celtics head coach concurred.
“They missed the threes,” coach Brad Stevens said. "I'd like to say that it was this outstanding 3-point defense, but I think when you re-watch it, it's a lot of open 3s they missed.”
The quotes seem to indicate an unlucky night for the Nets, but better teams will not turn the ball over 28 teams and play the kind of haphazard defense exhibited by the Celtics. The Nets can start a new winning streak Sunday when they welcome the Sacramento Kings to the Barclays Center. The Kings enter coming off a 12-point loss to the Toronto Raptors.