If you didn’t know we’re in mid-October, you might have mistaken last night’s Nets-Celtics showdown for a regular season game. Both teams took the matchup quite seriously, not allowing each other many easy baskets. In a way, that was to be expected. The preseason schedule is coming to a close, and the rotations are getting tighter.
Speaking of the Nets’ rotation, the Thursday’s game highlighted a possible issue. If Jeremy Lin is resting, Atkinson’s motion offense starts seeming a lot less fluid. Greivis Vasquez is coming off a major injury, and it’s clear he’s still not completely comfortable with the NBA tempo. He’s played 65 minutes over four games this preseason, scoring just 9 points in the process. Kenny Atkinson might want to take a longer look at Isaiah Whitehead and Yogi Ferrell as possible alternatives for the backup point guard spot.
On a more positive note, the Nets’ defensive effort against the Celtics was much better than what we’ve previously seen. After allowing 121 points to Miami, Atkinson was adamant that he wanted to see his team play with more hustle and energy on the defensive end. It’s fair to say his players took his words seriously, limiting Boston to just 41.7% from the field. Of course, some of the improvement is a natural benefit of a shorter rotation. The Monday’s game should bring us more of the same in that regard.
For their part, the Celtics seem ready for the regular season. Though they still don’t have a true superstar, Brad Stevens’ brand of team-oriented basketball should see them stake a claim for the top spot of the Eastern Conference. Terry Rozier suffered from a hip pointer, but he should be ready for the rematch.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics 10-17-16 Game Recap
Compared to the previous game between these two sides, the Celtics-Nets matchup was fairly one-sided. The hosts went on a run in the very first quarter, never allowing Brooklyn to climb back into the game. After displaying some solid defensive effort in the Thursday’s game, the Nets went back to their old ways by allowing the Celtics to score 120 points.
From the first possession of the game, it was obvious the Celtics came out ready to hustle. Atkinson’s team couldn’t get many open looks, but at least they were able to hold back Boston as well. As soon as the Nets starters went out, however, the Celtics responded with a 13-2 run to end the quarter. They held onto the lead throughout the second period, finishing the first half with a 62-50 advantage. Sean Kilpatrick was the lone bright spot for the Nets early on, having scored 11 points in 14 minutes.
With Brad Stevens deciding to rest his starters in the second half, the Nets got an opportunity to improve on their performance. Indeed, they got within 2 points midway through the third quarter, mostly thanks to their improved outside shooting. As it turned out, that was as close as they got. The Nets reserves couldn’t keep up the pressure, allowing the Celtics to make another strong run and seal the game. After the third quarter, the scoreboard read 94-76 to Boston.
The final period was basically an exhibition, with the Nets’ third stringers getting a run out as well. Chase Budinger made the most of the opportunity, scoring 10 points throughout the quarter. Beau Beech and Egidijus Mockevicius got their first minutes this preseason as well, but neither made much of a mark. By the end of the game, it was Boston 120, Brooklyn 98.
Kilpatrick made a strong case for a starting spot, finishing the game with 15 points on 6-10 from the field. Lin, Bogdanovic, Hollis-Jefferson and Budinger were all in double figures as well. Isaiah Thomas was Boston’s leading scorer with 19 points, going 6-6 from the field and 6-7 from the line.
Atkinson continued to mix things up, resting Trevor Booker, Greivis Vasquez, Joe Harris and Anthony Bennett. Kilpatrick made the starting lineup for the first time this preseason, getting the nod over both Foye and Bogdanovic. Somewhat surprisingly, Hamilton started at the power forward spot, right next to Brook Lopez.
The Nets continued to focus on their three-point shooting, hitting 11 on 32 attempts. In the five preseason games so far, they have averaged over 33 outside shot attempts. They were significantly outrebounded, allowing the Celtics 13 offensive rebounds and 46 points in the paint. On a more positive note, Brooklyn forced 25 turnovers and made 27 points off the fast breaks.
As an interesting aside, the Nets outscored their opponent with their starters in the game. The bench unit did far worse, with Bogdanovic posting an abysmal -35 +/- differential in 22 minutes. The Nets round up their preseason schedule with a home game against the Knicks on October 20.
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