From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Brooklyn Nets, who spent a lot of money to upgrade their roster this summer.
107.1 - Points per 100 possessions allowed by the Nets’ defense in 42 regular season games against other playoff teams.
That’s the worst mark among the 16 playoff teams in games played against each other. The Nets also had the worst point differential (-6.3 points per 100 possessions) in those games, because they weren’t very good offensively against good teams either.
They did a good job of taking care of business against the riff raff, going 33-7 against non-playoff teams. And there’s definitely value in that. It helped them earn a top-four seed an home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They also went an impressive 3-0 against the Pacers and 3-1 against the Celtics.
But the Nets mostly came up small in big games, and their defense was just a mess. All you have to know is that they allowed 61 points in the first half of Game 7 in their own building to a Bulls team that ranked 24th offensively in the regular season and was missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich. So much for home-court advantage.
Best point differential, games played among playoff teams
In those 42 games, the Nets rebounded fine and kept their opponents off the free throw line, but they didn’t force many turnovers and their shooting defense was pretty terrible, with their opponents registering an effective field goal percentage of 52.7 percent.
In particular, they didn’t defend the 3-point line well, allowing their playoff opponents to shoot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. Overall, Brooklyn ranked 21st in 3-point defense at 36.6 percent. With 3-point shooting becoming a bigger part of successful offenses every season, preventing and contesting threes become more important for defenses.
On Feb. 22, the Nets allowed the Rockets to shoot 16-for-30 from 3-point range. Now, Houston was the second most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history, but the Nets basically rolled out the red carpet for their shooters.
Those 16 threes were more about the Brooklyn defense than the Houston offense. Here’s some of the carnage…
As you see from the video, the Nets’ defense was just disorganized. If Brook Lopez is sagging on his pick-and-roll coverage (which he should be doing), then the other defender shouldn’t be going under the screen, especially against a good 3-point shooter like James Harden or Chandler Parsons. And if Lopez is within arm’s reach of the rolling big man, he doesn’t need anyone overhelping, especially from the strong-side corner.
Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko will make the Nets’ defense better. Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Kidd will help with the big-game toughness.
But if this team is going to rise to the level of championship contender, they have to do more than just add a couple of good defenders. They have to defend as a unit, with better communication, less mistakes, and more of a priority on defending the 3-point line.
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions