The Brooklyn Nets started slowly and had a bad third quarter, losing 121-100 to the Miami Heat in their third preseason game. Jeremy Lin looked good after resting in the previous game, and the offense clicked most of the time during his minutes, but there’s a bigger defensive problem for this team when Brook Lopez doesn’t play.
Lin finished with 16 points on 5-of-8 from the field, 2-for-3 from beyond the arc and 4-of-5 from the line, all in 24 minutes. He grabbed 3 rebounds, added 5 assists and one steal, in an overall good performance for him, which started out a bit slow like the rest of the team, but got a lot better for him personally during the other minutes he was on the floor. He’s averaging 18.5 points in the two preseason games, showing how much of a handful he’ll be to opposing guards.
Lin had no trouble getting by defenders, whether it was Goran Dragic or Tyler Johnson, getting into the paint or drawing two defenders on him while someone else opens up. He could have gone to the line a few more times had he focused on it (and the officiating was a bit more regular-season like), It was nice to see how confident he is when looking for a spot to shoot from, or the Nets movement. Lin is going to find open players, putting Hamilton in two comfortable spots for 3-point plays. Overall, the Nets knocked down 14 tre’s, with their percentage (42.4%) hurt a bit by Luis Scola, Isaiah Whitehead and Greivis Vasquez shooting a combined 0-for-10.
Joe Harris, starting in the lineup, scored 10 points and the already mentioned Hamilton finished with 12. Off the bench, Bojan Bogdanovic looked good scoring 13, Sean Kilpatrick is getting more and more rust-less with 10 points on solid shooting numbers, Scola did well when not launching bad threes and Anthony Bennett is doing the right things in an attempt to keep his NBA career alive, scoring 11 points including three 3-pointers.
Back to defense: Lopez isn’t that good of a defender, but being a 7-footer under the basket is automatically helpful, even a little bit.Not every team in the NBA and especially the Western conference has a dominant center like Hassan Whiteside, Andre Drummond or Dwight Howard, which might require more minutes than the Nets would like to give Lopez sometimes. But this game highlighted the need for a big body in the paint, not just for the sake of giving strong centers trouble, but also to counter them on the other end, by forcing them into foul trouble and getting them exhausted by having to deal with Lopez. Justin Hamilton is a very good shooter, but he’s not the kind of big man to make other bigs work hard under the basket. Lin wasn’t at his best defensively too. Not having someone to cover from behind always hurts guards, Goran Dragic doesn’t make it easy on anyone, and yes, for the millionth time: It’s the preseason.
One way to counter that might be attacking the ball possession early. Lin finished with one steal, but in minutes and games when Lopez isn’t playing and the Nets have a problem dealing with points in the paint, full court press, half court traps and essentially attacking the point guard early could come in handy. In general I think we don’t see enough full-court presses in the league. The Nets are creative in how they run their offense and built this roster. Obviously, they’re going to be better defensively with time, but it might take some creative ideas to squeeze a bit more out of this group.