Brooklyn at Boston
Celtics: 103.9 points/100 possessions (8th)
Nets: 104.2 points/100 possessions (7th)
Celtics: 103.7 points allowed/100 possessions (21st)
Nets: 101.1 points allowed/100 possessions (14th)
View from the opposing bench: The Brooklyn Game
We’ve got a longer preview today, via a little back and forth with our friend Devin Kharpertian over at The Brooklyn Game. I sent him over a few questions. He sent me questions. Then we both answered them. If things go well, we may trade questions again in the future. Or we may never speak again. Really, anything could happen. You can’t predict this stuff.
In the meantime, here’s what Devin had to say:
Devin Kharpertian: I still think they’re a step below. Before the season I argued that the Eastern Conference was 1) Miami Heat, and 2) about six other teams. The Nets and Celtics are both in that second tier. The Nets have played really well so far; they began the season with a cakewalk schedule but have beaten some tough teams in the last two weeks, and even three of their four losses came in winnable games. I don’t think they’re close to the Heat, mostly because I don’t think anyone is close to the Heat, but I think they’ve got a really good shot at the second seed. And as Dallas taught us in the 2011 Finals, sometimes showing up begets surprise success.
As far as their Achilles heel, it’s probably still the defense. The bench mob has done an amazing job playing tough D — particularly Flail Boy Magic Mr. Floptastic Reggie Evans — but there are still a host of missed rotations and miscommunications in every game. You’ll see some tonight, for sure. It’s getting there — the system has certainly improved in recent games, and they’ve done an excellent job limiting opportunities against good teams — but it’s hardly the top-10 team that Avery Johnson’s shooting for.
DK: He’s been fantastic. Really. Part of it is just developing this immediate chemistry with Deron Williams — 44 of Lopez’s 107 buckets this season have come from a Williams dish — but he also just looks healthy for the first time in years. He’s scoring through contact, destroying defenders in the post with his high hook, up-and-under, and feathery touch, and is just a half-step quicker overall than in previous years. Defensively, I think he’s slowed down a bit, as he’s not hedging pick-and-rolls hard as much as he did in the first few games, and guards are sneaking around him more. But given what I expected from him, he’s been all that and more.
DK: It’s surreal. I grew up in New Jersey and because of that have this innate sense of Jersey pride that’s impossible to shake. But Brooklyn is a completely different universe, both on and off the court. There’s a connection to this borough the Nets are fostering that was unheard of in East Rutherford & Newark. It’s certainly not all roses and sunshine — the Nets did force their way into a residential area and have left a permanently bad taste in some people’s mouths that won’t ever shake out. But in a borough with 2.5 million people, that’s bound to happen.
The fans have come together in spurts — The Brooklyn Chant has been mesmerizing in scattered doses — but Monday night’s victory over the Knicks was the first time it really came together. Nets fans came out in droves to outbellow Knicks fans. As a longtime Nets fan, that’s insane. That’s never happened, ever. To hear Carmelo Anthony M-V-P chants shut out in a matter of seconds? By Nets fans? It’s All New really rings true now.
If you want to read my thoughts on the C’s, including whether Rondo’s assist streak has been a distraction, swing by The Brooklyn Game.
Boston 102 Brooklyn 91