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DeMar DeRozan is going to get his points on a nightly basis, and there's not much Brooklyn can do about it. Such is the nature of an elite scorer, a title DeRozan (22.7 points per game) earned this season. Great offense beats great defense every time.
The Nets are making it easier on DeRozan by frequently sending him to the free-throw line, though. DeRozan averaged 8.0 attempts from the stripe per game during the regular season, but he's already got 48 free throws through four games in this series.
There are two problems with this trend for the Nets. First of all, it's cheap points for the Raptors. DeRozan is a good free-throw shooter (82 percent for his career), and he's made 42 of those 48 in this series. With scoring at a premium in an old-fashioned, physical series, those points loom large.
The bigger problem is that it allows DeRozan to practice his stroke at the free-throw line and see the ball go through the net, which is always a potential catalyst for a jump-shooter. DeRozan isn't shooting very well at the moment—he's only made 17 of his 51 shots outside of the paint in the first four games, per Vorped.com—but Brooklyn is bailing him out with boneheaded fouls.
Not all of the blame is on the Nets. The entire series has been constantly punctuated by the officials' whistles, as it seems the refs are anticipating contact (especially in the paint) and calling fouls on relatively tame plays.
But the Nets aren't helping. The NBA is increasingly protecting jump-shooters, and refs are quick to penalize defenders for not allowing their opponents a safe landing space after they attempt a shot. Still, Brooklyn defenders are crowding DeRozan, undercutting him as he jumps without affecting his release and giving him a great opportunity for a three-point play.
So here's the prescription. Continue punishing DeRozan when he drives—make him think twice about taking the ball to the rim. But when he's outside, let him brick jumpers all night. Put a hand in his face but don't tap his elbow or hip check him on the way down. Make him prove that he can convert half his perimeter shots instead of sending him to the line.