While the Brooklyn Nets can take comfort that it’s still the preseason, their constant struggles when turning away from anything that involves Jeremy Lin, and their inability to get Brook Lopez into any kind of groove, has to be just a little bit worrisome for Kenny Atkinson.
The Nets lost 120-99 to the Boston Celtics in a game that wasn’t very competitive for most of its stretches. There was the nice third quarter run led by Lin and Sean Kilpatrick (in his best game this preseason), but just like in the first quarter, the moment the Nets turn to their reserves, the defense takes a huge hit, and the motion offense doesn’t resemble anything manageable, showing just how difficult it is to run and implement into an entire team.
Lin was solid. He scored 13 points, had 5 assists, hit a 3-pointer, and like the entire starting lineup, finishing with a positive in the +/- line. If there’s one player the Nets aren’t concerned about it’s Lin, who is going to be a lot more important to this team than a lot of Nets fans imagined. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the players around him need to catch up, both in consistency and in speed of thought, because it just sometimes looks like too few players are on the same page as far as the Nets offense & defense are concerned. Once again: It’s alright to have these jitters in the preseason, but the regular season is 8 days away. It starts in Boston, on the road.
Maybe the biggest disappointment in the preseason so far has been Lopez, and the lack of pick & roll between him and Lin. Atkinson has said the team and players should go to their strengths a number of times, but unless he’s trying to simply find out more about certain lineups and players, revealing hidden talents and advantages, it’s unclear why the Nets aren’t doing more of something that is very simple to run and should be incredibly effective. Lopez was 2-of-8 from the field, finishing with 6 points, and didn’t do much except wait around on the perimeter, hitting one long range shot and another easy one under the basket.
Not all doom & gloom of course, we only expected to see something more refined at this point, but maybe that was over-expectation on our part. Of course, it could very well be that teams don’t want to reveal everything they have in the preseason, especially against a division rival and the team they open the season against. With the Nets still trying to figure out their rotations, there might be a good reason for Atkinson to hold back on some of what he knows are his “sure things.”
As for other players, Kilpatrick scored 15 points on 6-of-10 from the field, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 10. Off the bench, Bojan Bogdanovic scored 12 points, but played during the Celtics two big runs, finishing with a -35 in 22 minutes. Chase Budinger scored 10 points in 18 minutes, grabbing a team high (tied) 5 rebounds. The Nets had a problem blocking out the Celtics near the rim, giving up 13 offensive boards. Isaiah Whitehead didn’t take the opportunity of Greivis Vasquez, Joe Harris and Yogi Ferrell not playing, and didn’t provide any fireworks in his 17 minutes.