Kevin Durant’s Nets has spent the entire season searching for answers, and time has finally run out

Kevin Durant's Nets has spent the entire season searching for answers, and time has finally run out

New York On the verge of disqualification, without a win in three play-offs against Boston CelticsThe Brooklyn Networks Try again to explain what went wrong. Steve Nash said they flipped the ball because they were second-guessing themselves. Blake Griffin They said they were not in the right spirit and were not a cohesive unit. Keri Irving They said they were still trying the gel. Kevin Durant He said he didn’t have much space to work, didn’t want to force it and was thinking too much.

“Just a dirty game,” Durant said at Barclays Center after Brooklyn’s 109-103 loss in Game Three of the first round on Saturday. Shetty game.

Superstars see fewer double teams and less assist in defense when they team up, and super teams are supposed to make the game look easy. Why, then, did Durant and Irving have such a difficult time? Is it just that Boston is the best defensive team imaginable? Aside from getting another break point in the series opening, is there anything the networks can do to avoid this?

What happened to PG from PG County?

Less than two weeks ago, after Brooklyn’s last game of the regular season. Irving dubbed Durant the “P.G. County point guard” in the locker room and at the post-game press conference. Indiana PacersBut he got 16 assists. Irving praised him for “letting the game come to him” and “not being overthinking”.

Throughout the season, Durant has been seeing more extreme defensive coverage than he would have preferred. Sometimes, teams would corner him once he passed half the court. Nets are routinely played by two or even three players that the defenses ignore. It is no coincidence that in the first game Joe Harris Missed his ankle injury at the end of the season, the Golden State Warriors Use a square, 1, triangle, and 2 in Brooklyn.

At their best, Durant and the nets were able to take advantage of all that attention, tackling downwards with ball movement and timed pieces. In the 523 minutes of the regular season that Durant and Irving played together, Brooklyn scored 122.8 points per 100 possessions. That number dropped to 111.9 per 100 in the 111-minute interval against the Celtics. Boston denied Durant the ball, pulled his airspace, cleared his driveways and made him think.

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It wasn’t just transformation and physicality that bothered Durant. Boston is a cutting edge defensive team that communicates and closes in front of shooters and uses their length like no one else. Brooklyn has got its own way.

In this series, the Celtics attempted 103 3-point range shots to the Nets ’74. Even after Brooklyn reclaimed two long seconds on Saturday, after two consecutive games in which he took more than he would during any regular season game. , much of the possession went in a familiar fashion: Durant holds the ball isolated against a strong defender about 17 feet from the basket, looking at a loaded defense, with several of his teammates inside the 3-point line.

You will not create many 3s from this scenario. But Durant is used to finding his rhythm by getting these kinds of touches and getting into his places.

“We like it [shoot more 3s]”It’s not necessarily the nature of our group,” Nash said after training on Friday. “It’s ironic that we have a lot of good 3-point shooters, but…not all of them are type I, so to speak.”

Instead of working hard to get the ball into Durant inside the arc, the nets could have pushed him to attack more often. part of Mike D’Antony’s logic to set James Harden On the ball six years ago he was saving Harden from using a lot of energy “down there in the wrestling match of people trying to catch him and keep denying and all that.” Brooklyn had some success against Boston when Durant was running high-ball screens in Game 3, but that wasn’t the primary strategy. He turned the ball into the net several times in an attempt to throw in passes to him.

“I think we were just trying to find a balance between him and him being the frontrunner in main attack, but we also don’t take a lot of wasted dribbles against a lost defence,” Irving said.

Boston makes things complicated

Last June, a Milwaukee Bucks Durant dared to hit them himself and came very close to doing so. In addition to facing the very opposite defensive game plan of Boston’s, Durant was in an entirely different attacking environment—in his masterpiece of 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists in Game 5, he attempted to net 43 three-pointers. “Their Centers”, Griffin and Jeff Greenshot 10 vs 14 from depth.

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The easiest way to explain Brooklyn’s problems with the offensive is to point out an old training wisdom: Violation is distancing and distancing is a crime. Prior to Saturday’s game, Nash disputed the idea that the nets needed more shots on the field.

“This is one of its components,” he said. “Joe Harris is obviously a loser. But we still have to attack, we still have to play together, we still have to stick to our principles. I thought we saw them on display in the first half. [of Game 2] And we slowed down a lot in many ways in the second half.. but I am very hesitant to give black and white answers because the game is not black and white.”

Brooklyn scored 130 points per 100 possessions in the first half of Game Two. On Saturday, he scored 128.2 per 100 in 22 minutes in the first half of Durant. The ugly possessions that followed will be remembered, but the Nets showed they had some ideas on how to attack a defense with a few weak links.

In this first quarter of a Barclays possession, Irving got the ball to Durant, then immediately ran off a bright screen from Nick Claxton. Boston changed it, leaving the youngest Marcus Smart on Claxton. Irving got into the paint, called for help and found Claxton in Dunker’s spot with Loeb:

Next play, same concept: Durant got the ball down quickly, Claxton in the sinking position against Smart and Irving has room to play one-on-one because Durant and Seth Carrey on its sides:

Here, Claxton slides a screen for patty mills On the basis of playing out of bounds. Grant Williams And Jaylyn Brown He misses the switch and Durant drops the ball to Claxton, who is looking away from the cut Bruce Brown And finds mills wide open for 3:

That’s the kind of thing the nets had to do when they couldn’t keep up Daniel Theiss or Payton Pritchard. (It is still not clear, by the way, why they are Leave Pritchard off the hook in Game 2.) But it is difficult and complex. The Celtics don’t make a lot of mistakes, and when you’re trying to rig matches, you may encounter shot clock by the time you get what you’re looking for. The advantages disappear quickly.

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Nash said Boston’s defense made Brooklyn hesitant, creating easy swings and baskets on the other end. “We don’t play our best basketball, we’re not strong by our actions, and we have that faith,” he said. No one expected this group to turn into the Golden State Warriors 2019 team that conquered Houston RocketsScheme of switching with continuous motion and misdirection after Durant’s loss to a calf injury. It would have helped, however, to reduce lapses like this:

The net has spent the past six months searching. On opening night against the Bucks, they started Griffin next to Claxton in the front area and played James JohnsonAnd LaMarcus Aldridge And Jevon Carter in the second unit. Paul Millsap He secured Johnson’s place in the next match. DeAndre ‘Bembry He was an important part of Brooklyn’s defense for a while. On Christmas Day, Harden started a four-game winning streak in which he scored at least 33 points and provided at least 10 assists. In mid-March, the nets It is said to be hopeful who – which Ben Simmons He will return in the last two games of the regular season.

In Saturday’s must-win game, Brooklyn started the fourth quarter with a lineup that had no wing defenders and didn’t play together: Mills, Carey, Irving, Durant and Griffin. Griffin has been off duty since mid-February, scoring six minutes in one game in the four weeks leading up to Game Three. There wasn’t a moment in the 2021-22 season that Nash’s coaching staff wasn’t. To compromise on the defense of divergence or vice versa, try imperfect solutions to its dual problem of list imbalance and lack of continuity. Against the Celtics, the team with the strongest contrast possible, the Nets ran out of time.

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