Grading Every Brooklyn Nets Player's First-Round Performance so Far
The Nets blew the Bulls away 106-89 in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series. But the Bulls bounced back, stealing home court at the Barclays Center in Game 2 with a 90-82 victory.
Chicago then carried its momentum back to the United Center, holding Brooklyn to 76 points in Game 3.
Down two games to one, the Nets were on the brink of evening the series in Game 4 before Nate Robinson led the Bulls on a 14-0 run in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime. Robinson scored 34 points in Game 4, 29 of which came after the third quarter. The 5’ 8” point guard led his team to a triple-overtime win, allowing Chicago to take control of the series.
With its back against the wall, Brooklyn responded with a 110-91 lashing of Chicago in a must-win Game 5.
Now, the series returns to the Windy City for a pivotal Game 6 on Thursday night. The Nets will need to win on the road in order to force a decisive Game 7.
With P.J. Carlesimo’s squad in a rather precarious situation, let’s take a look back at how each Brooklyn Nets player has performed in the series to this point.
SERIES STATISTICS: 11.5 minutes per game, 0.0 PTS, 1.0 REB, 1.0 AST, .000% FG, .000% FT
BEST GAME: Game 1: 0.0 PTS, 2.0 REB
After serving as a solid role player during the regular season, swingman Keith Bogans has been pinched out of the Nets’ playoff rotation thus far.
Bogans has played a total of just 26 minutes through five games of the series with Chicago, and hasn’t played at all in the last three games.
But Bogans provides depth and a solid veteran presence, and could be called upon in the event of an injury.
SERIES STATISTICS: 4.4 minutes per game, 0.4 PTS, 0.4 REB, 0.4 AST, 20% FG, .000% FT
BEST GAME: Game 3: 2.0 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.0 AST
Like Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks has been all but phased out of the postseason rotation. The second-year shooting guard failed to earn the confidence of P.J. Carlesimo during the regular season.
Before Game 4, Brooks said he felt like a last resort.
"It seems like I'm the last resort, honestly," he said. "If things aren't going well for the team, throw MarShonout there. That's been the rhythm all year. I kind of know when my name is going to be called, in a sense." (via News Day)
With Joe Johnson logging big minutes while battling plantar fasciitis, Brooks could be called upon earlier in games to provide a scoring punch to the second unit.
SERIES STATISTICS: 7.0 minutes per game, 1.3 minutes per game, 1.3 PTS, 1.0 REB, 10% FG, 75% FT
BEST GAME: Game 2: 4.0 PTS
Jerry Stackhouse played 12 minutes in Game 1, but air-balled his first three shots and failed to score. This could be why he has barely played in the series.
The 38-year-old has only played a minor bench role through five games. He’s getting a little more time on the floor than MarShon Brooks, but that’s not saying much.
Unless Joe Johnson is unable to go, don’t count on seeing much of Stackhouse for the remainder of the series, unless it’s in garbage time.
SERIES STATISTICS: 12 minutes per game, 4.4 PTS, 2.8 REB, 0.4 BLK, 0.2 STL, 47% FG, 1.000% FT
BEST GAME: Game 5: 8.0 PTS, 6.0 REB, 1.0 STL
Kris Humphries had a disappointing regular season, but it appeared his role was going to increase in the postseason.
That has not been the case.
After playing a combined 58 minutes in Brooklyn’s final two regular-season games, Humphries has averaged just 12 minutes per game in the playoffs. He played just four minutes in Saturday’s triple-overtime loss.
Humphies’ Game 5 production (eight points and six rebounds) was encouraging, but as long as the Nets’ frontcourt avoids foul trouble, he won’t play a significant role in the rest of the series.
SERIES STATISTICS: 24.8 minutes per game, 9.2 PTS, 2.8 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.2 BLK, 43% FG, 77% FT
BEST GAME: Game 1: 14 PTS, 1.0 REB, 1.0 AST
Like Gerald Wallace, C.J. Watson has had a very up-and-down opening-round series.
Watson, who was a member of the Bulls last season, has played more minutes in the playoffs than he did during the regular season. The 6' 2" shooting guard has provided much-needed scoring production off the bench, averaging 9.2 points per game, but he’s failed to come through in some critical moments during the series.
Watson missed a potential game-tying three-pointer in Game 3, and failed to convert a wide-open dunk in the final minutes of Game 4, sparking a 14-0 Chicago run.
Watson shot a combined 4-of-16 from the field in Game 3 and Game 4, and missed all four of his three-point attempts. He’s shot just 23 percent from beyond the arc in the series.
SERIES STATISTICS: 33.6 minutes per game, 10 PTS, 4.6 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.6 STL, 1.0 BLK, 46% FG, 57% FT
BEST GAME: Game 4: 17 PTS, 9.0 REB, 4.0 AST, 1.0 BLK, 1.0 STL
Gerald Wallace has been the X-factor in this series.
When Wallace has played well, like he did in Game 1 and Game 5, the Nets have won. Wallace had a monster performance in Game 4, but the combination of a red-hot Nate Robinson and Brooklyn’s inability to score down the stretch were too much to overcome.
When Wallace has disappeared, like he did in Game 2 and Game 3, the Nets have struggled and lost.
Bulls small forward Luol Deng has presented Wallace with a tough matchup. He’s tall, long and is a polished player both offensively and defensively.
Wallace finished off the Bulls on Monday night. With the Nets up by seven late in the fourth quarter, the small forward nailed a crucial three-pointer from the corner, then stole the ball on the ensuing Chicago possession and took it to the rack for a vicious dunk.
Wallace needs to have a big game on Thursday night for the Nets to force a Game 7.
SERIES STATISTICS: 30.6 minutes per game, 5.6 PTS, 11.6 REB, 1.4 STL, 0.8 AST, 0.4 BLK, 52% FG, 42% FT
BEST GAME: Game 4: 15 PTS, 13 REB, 2.0 BLK, 1.0 STL
Statistically, Evans is having an outstanding postseason. Through five games versus Chicago, he’s averaging more points, rebounds and steals than he did during the regular season. He’s also improved his field-goal percentage by nearly 5 percent.
Evans has recorded double-digit rebounds in four of the five games in the series.
But these stats don’t reveal how badly the Nets’ starting power forward is getting beaten by Carlos Boozer on the defensive end. Boozer is averaging 18.2 points and 10.8 boards against Evans.
Boozer’s production has increased in part as a result of not having to worry about Evans scoring. He can simply play off of him and get into a position to grab the rebound, and expend the vast majority of his energy on the offensive end of the floor.
SERIES STATISTICS: 19.8 minutes per game, 10.6 PTS, 4.6 REB, 1.0 AST, 0.4 BLK, 52% FG, 87% FT
BEST GAME: Game 2: 13 PTS, 5.0 REB, 3.0 AST
Andray Blatche has carried his strong play during the regular season into the postseason. He’s averaging more points and playing big crunch-time minutes for Brooklyn in its opening-round series with Chicago.
Carlesimo opted to roll with Blatche and Brook Lopez in the final minutes of Game 5. Blatche scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and helped the Nets put the Bulls away 110-91.
The backup center turned crunch-time power forward has scored double digits in three of the five games in the series.
Blatche provides size and versatility to a Nets lineup that lacks scoring production at the power forward position. When both he and Lopez are in the game, Brooklyn has a tremendous size advantage over the Bulls.
Look for Carlesimo to continue to use Blatche and Lopez in crunch-time for Game 6.
SERIES STATISTICS: 39 minutes per game, 16.2 PTS, 3.4 REB, 2.6 AST, 0.6 STL, 44% FG, 83% FT
BEST GAME: Game 4: 22 PTS, 3.0 REB, 1.0 AST
Even with plantar fasciitis, Joe Johnson has managed to score double digits in all five of Brooklyn’s playoff games.
Johnson has been a warrior this postseason, playing 39 minutes per game. He played a whopping 48 minutes in the Game 4 overtime loss.
Johnson was clutch in the regular season and has continued to produce in crunch time in the postseason. The 6’ 7” shooting guard hit two floaters in the final 11.8 seconds of the first overtime of Game 4, including a game-tying buzzer-beater to force a second OT.
Johnson has struggled from beyond the arc in the series, shooting just 29 percent. But three days between Game 5 and Game 6 will provide him with much-needed rest. Expect him to come out firing in a must-win game on Thursday night.
SERIES STATISTICS: 42 minutes per game, 20.6 PTS, 8.2 AST, 2.8 REB, 1.4 STL, 0.8 BLK, 41% FG, 87% FT
BEST GAME: Game 4: 32 PTS, 10 AST, 3.0 REB, 2.0 BLK, 1.0 STL
Deron Williams finished the regular season on a tear, and he picked up where he left off in the postseason.
Following Monday night’s Game 5 win, D-Will became the first Nets player since Jason Kidd in 2002 to record multiple 20-point, 10-assist games in the playoffs (via ESPN Stats and Info).
Williams took advantage of the absence of an injured Kirk Hinrich in Game 5. The Nets’ point guard shot 6-for-10 and scored 19 of his 23 points while being guarded by the much smaller Nate Robinson.
While being guarded by Hinrich during the first four games of the series, Williams shot a combined 13-for-39 (via ESPN Stats and Info).
Look for D-Will to continue to dominate on the offensive end in Game 6 with Hinrich not on the floor.
SERIES STATISTICS: 37.8 minutes per game, 23.6 PTS, 8.0 REB, 3.4 BLK, 1.6 AST, 0.6 STL, 49% FG, 89% FT
BEST GAME: Game 5: 28 PTS, 10 REB, 2.0 AST
Brook Lopez has single-handedly decimated the Bulls' frontcourt. With Chicago center Joakim Noah hobbled by plantar fasciitis, Lopez has showcased his impressive skill set on both of ends of the floor in this series.
The 25-year-old has scored at least 20 points in all five games.
Lopez scored a playoff career-high 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Brooklyn’s 110-91 victory on Monday night. He’s averaging a ridiculous 23.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.4 blocks in the series, and has continued to improve as it’s gone on.
The Nets’ 7-footer is proving in his first playoffs why many now consider him the best center in the NBA.
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