Paul Pierce wasn’t pleased with the Nets’ effort in their Game 2 loss.
Pierce, who did not score his first field goal until there was 3:48 in the game and finished with just six points, expressed his frustration with Brooklyn’s defensive play.
“I thought guys stuck to their man individually for the most part and didn’t help one another and that is the big part of our defense,” Pierce told reporters after the game. “Sink and shrinking the floor, locking down the paint, too many touches for them in the paint, too many paint points, and we didn’t rebound. We gave them everything they wanted, 50 points in the paint, and  offensive rebounds. We were a soft team tonight.”
Hard to argue that. The rebounding was particularly brutal, as the Raptors constantly reset after getting their own misses. It’s been said before, but if the Nets are going to get taken to town on the glass, they’re going to have to play truly lights out defense. They forced Toronto into plenty of turnovers on Tuesday, but they didn’t capitalize like they should have. There were also more defensive breakdowns than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, as it just seemed like the Nets couldn’t get the big stop they needed in the fourth quarter.
Yes, the onus was on Toronto to ensure they got at least one game at home, but now the pressure shifts to Brooklyn, who needs to lock down the home court advantage that has served them so well in 2014. The team’s leaders will have to demand more out of everyone.
The Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre by a score of 100-95, which evened up their first round series at a game apiece.
Need to Know: Demar Derozan scored a game-high 30 points (9-of-21 shooting).
Joe Johnson had a team-high 18 points (7-of-13, 1-of-4 from deep) with three rebounds and two assists.
Paul Pierce did not score his first field goal until there was 3:48 in the game. He finished with just six points.
Brooklyn shot just 44.2% from the field and 71.4% from the line.
The Nets forced Toronto into 21 turnovers, while committing just 10 of their own. The Raptors, however, out-rebounded Brooklyn 52-30.
Pierce had the look, he had the opportunity, but he just
missed a three with under 30 seconds to play that could have given Brooklyn a one point lead late. Heartbreaker…Just too much Derozan down the stretch. The fourth year man out of USC just stepped up when his team needed him, hitting two huge back-to-back buckets to give Toronto a fourth quarter advantage they wouldn’t relinquish…I know that the Toronto crowd seems to be obsessed with Garnett, but it looks like the officials are, too. Garnett picked up his second technical foul of the series for…honestly, I have no idea what. I understand the referees want to keep control and KG is emotional and physical, but let’s not get carried away, guys…Well, Andrei Kirilenko certainly made an impression in that
game. AK47 was all over the floor. He followed on misses, racked up four steals, grabbed three boards, and played great defense. That’s one heck of a playoff effort. Too bad it was for naught…What’s the old adage? The series doesn’t start until you lose a game? Well, it’s on, and it’s up to the Nets to respond on their home floor.
What’s Next: The Nets and Raptors will head to Brooklyn, where they’ll play Game 3 of this best-of-seven series on Friday night. Game time is set for 7:00 PM. Coverage will be on YES and ESPN2.
The Good: Joe Johnson’s 24 points and eight rebounds in Game 1 were the most points and boards he has had in a playoff game since May 4, 2012 vs. Boston (with Atlanta)…Deron Williams has scored 20+ points in five of his eight career playoff games with Brooklyn…Game 2 will be Paul Pierce’s 138th career playoff game, which will tie him with Dale Davis for 50th in NBA history.
The Bad: Led by Jonas Valanciunas’ 13, the Nets were out-rebounded 45-37 in Game 1, and Toronto garnered a 21.2 offensive rebound percentage…Brooklyn shot just 4-for-24 (16.7%) from deep in Game 1…Kevin Garnett did not make his first field goal attempt until there was just 3:41 remaining in the game. It was the history time in his career he did not make a field goal in the first half of a playoff game.
In a must-read report for Deadspin, Brett Koremenos breaks down how the Nets have combated their age by buying into Jason Kidd’s switching system and become an elite NBA defense.
Koremenos explains that, by putting pressure of their opponent to read situations more quickly, the Nets have utilized their unique roster make up that allows each player on the roster to defend multiple positions:
“By combining this genetic conformity on the perimeter with the presence of [Kevin] Garnett at center (and to a degree, rookie Mason Plumlee) Brooklyn has achieved the ideal defensive template. [Deron] Williams may give up size when switching, but his strength makes up for it. Ditto for Johnson, an oversized shooting guard who can make up for height disadvantages in the same way. [Shaun] Livingston’s thin frame can make him an easy target for bigger players, but his length allows him to be a pest both on and off the ball. Tying it all together is the sage veteran [Paul] Pierce. While still at risk of being overpowered by certain power forwards (Zach Randolph in Memphis), Pierce has survived just fine in a smaller Eastern Conference, giving the Nets the ability to swap him onto opposing wings with little risk of being exposed, and he’s been a pest for mobile bigs like Chris Bosh, who prefers attacking slower big men.”
This is a fantastic break down by Koremenos that really pinpoints how the Nets are able to shake up some of the game’s best. We saw Brooklyn relentlessly switch on Dirk Nowitzki a month back in the Nets’ OT win against Dallas, and their success against Bosh and his Heat are well documented. It;s encouraging, because it shows that Brooklyn’s success is not only sustainable, but it gives Billy King a clear blue print on how to construct a roster going forward. This is Kidd’s system, and it’s been fully implemented. Eventually, when King has to go back to the drawing board for next year, he’ll know exactly which players fit what Kidd is trying to do on the floor and which don’t.
Read more: Deadspin (Koremenos)
Paul Pierce wants everyone to know that he was born with his clutchness.
A day after telling reporters he’s feeling much better than he did in last year’s playoffs, Pierce expounded on his propensity for making a big shot.
“[Being clutch] is in my DNA,” Pierce said at this morning’s shootaround. “There’s nothing I can do to let it go [...] Everybody is not born with it. You can’t buy it at Costco or Walgreens.”
I know “clutch” is an abstract term, one stat-heads seem to hate, but there is at least a small something to it. After all, humans play this game, not cyborgs. Not everything is attributable to random sampling, and Pierce does seem to have an ability to slow things down as the moments get bigger. Seeing it up close, it’s a sight to behold, and one can only hope he can keep it up as the playoffs roll on.
On a related note, Pierce certainly seems confident, doesn’t he? That run of points to finish off Game 1 really has him in a zone, and his comments reflect that. To me, credit has to be paid to Jason Kidd. Pierce is obviously fresher, both mentally and physically (he admitted as much Monday at practice), and he’s determined to be that go-to guy down the stretch in these playoff games. I can’t overstate just how important that mentality is, especially for closing games on the road. It’s a very, very good sign.
GEICO SportsNite covers Nets practice on Monday, as Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce discuss the team’s preparations for Game 2 in Toronto:
The NBA has fined Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri $25,000 for his comments during the Raptors pep rally.
Ujiri exclaimed the crowd gathered outside the Air Canada Centre, “F— Brooklyn!” He apologized at halftime.
“Just trying to get the crowd out there rattled — wrong choice of words,” Ujiri explained on Monday. “I apologize to kids out there and to the Brooklyn guys. Nothing against them. Just trying to get our fans going. That’s it.”
Read more: ESPN (Stein)
In Game 1, the Raptors did not have an answer for the Nets’ veterans, so on Tuesday, Dwane Casey is going to give Landry Fields a shot.
The Toronto Sun‘s Ryan Wolstat spoke to Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and, even though Wolstat said Casey tried to veil his thoughts specifically about Fields getting some time on Joe Johnson and/or Paul Pierce, he explained the merits of the plan coming out of Monday’s practice:
“Fields is a long, athletic defender who specializes in stopping opponents,” Wolstat explained. “[He] has played just 23 total minutes since playing for 25 minutes against Golden State on March 2nd (eight points and six rebounds in a win), but teammate Greivis Vasquez said Fields had a great practice on Monday and Fields is over a flu bug that had troubled him last week.”
Moke Hamilton, NBA Analyst
Even though his NBA career is still in its infancy stages, it is safe to say that Landry Fields has failed to live up to the expectations garnered when he finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting and made the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team after a successful first year with the Knicks back in 2010. And if Fields is charged with guarding wither Paul Pierce or Joe Johnson for extended periods of time over the course of this series, it is one that may be especially long for him.
Physically, Fields has the size of a prototypical NBA shooting guard, and — although he is an exceptional leaper — he has consistently shown an overall dearth of lateral quickness that causes him to get beat off of the dribble easily and often. Fortunately for him, neither Pierce nor Johnson are equipped with exceptionally quick first steps, but each are exceptional ball handlers that excel at using their size, strength, and handle to keep defenders off balance and get where they want. If the Raptors are counting on Fields to be the defensive answer to Pierce or Johnson, the Raptors may be going home sooner than many expect.
Being a defensive stalwart on the perimeter in the NBA requires patience, the ability to anticipate and exceptional lateral quickness. To this point, Fields has not demonstrated the requisite gifts and there is little reason to believe that he will have success trying to slow two of the more versatile, even if aging scorers in the Eastern Conference.
Read more: Toronto Sun (Wolstat)
Josh Newman, Field Reporter
The Nets are about to get greedy and with good reason.
Led by a big fourth quarter from Paul Pierce on Saturday afternoon, the Nets went up to Toronto and came back with home-court advantage thanks to a 94-87 Game 1 win, and with Game 2 set for Air Canada Centre on Tuesday evening, the possibility of putting a hammerlock on this best-of-7 series with Games 3 and 4 at Barclays Center is very real.
“We’re gonna do everything we can,” Pierce said after practice at PNY Center on Monday afternoon. “We’re going up there with an urgency to try to get a second win, that’s all that’s on our mind. We made little adjustments like we didn’t play our best game, so we’re going up there to try and get the second one.”
“We want to get this one as well,” Deron Williams said. “At some point, we we’re gonna have to win one in Toronto, so I think it was good we won the first one, but now we can’t let our guard down because we stole one. We’ve gotta be greedy, we’ve gotta go in there and be ready to play. We don’t want them to bounce back and get a win.”
Before Pierce came up with nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday, including several big buckets late, it had not been the Nets’ best game offensively. They shot just 42.5 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from 3-point range. The one constant for four quarters on Saturday was Joe Johnson.
His 24 points on 8-for-13 shooting, eight rebounds and four assists in 45 minutes came at the expense of DeMar DeRozan and Terrance Ross. Johnson used his size to his advantage on Saturday, specifically in the post, both as a scorer and as a facilitator.
Johnson has never been accused of being naive, so he knows that with the Raptors needing a win to avoid an 0-2 hole, they will make adjustments. It will be Johnson’s job to make his own adjustments once the Raptors show him something different.
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