By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Brooklyn Nets should feel good about where they stand in their first round series with the Toronto Raptors. They got one game, were in position to win another and are home for the next two.
Game 3 is Friday in Brooklyn (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2). The Nets went 23-4 at the Barclays Center after Christmas, and if they win their three games at home, they will move on to the conference semifinals.
The Nets haven’t shot well yet in this series, yet they’re still tied. They shot just 4-for-24 from 3-point range in Game 1 and 7-for-24 in Game 2.
When the Nets went to a smaller lineup, they became more dependent on 3-point shots. No team hit more threes after the All-Star break. So they should feel good that other things were working well enough that they were able to win Game 1 while missing 19 straight shots from beyond the arc.
The should also feel good that, though they ranked 21st in 3-point percentage on the road (34.8 percent), they ranked second at home (39.1 percent). Only the Spurs (+4.5 percent) had a bigger home-road discrepancy with their 3-point percentage. Only the Magic and Suns had a bigger home-road discrepancy in offensive efficiency.
Interestingly, it’s not the Nets’ role players, but their biggest stars who have benefited most from playing at home when it comes to 3-point shooting. Deron Williams (+10.7 percent), Joe Johnson (+9.7 percent) and Paul Pierce (+7.4) all ranked among the 15 players with the biggest home-road 3-point percentage discrepancy (among 145 who have attempted at least 75 threes both at home and on the road).
Biggest discrepancy, home vs. road 3-point percentage
|Tim Hardaway Jr.||79||195||40.5%||51||163||31.3%||9.2%|
Minimum 75 3-point attempts both at home and on the road
Johnson has punished the Raptors in the paint, but those three shot a combined 7-for-28 from 3-point range in Games 1 and 2. The shot Pierce had to take the lead with 25 seconds to go on Tuesday was wide open, and so have been a lot of the Nets’ attempts from 3-point range.
According to SportVU, 58 of Brooklyn’s 87 jump shots (67 percent) have been uncontested, and they’ve shot just 19-for-58 (33 percent) on those uncontested jumpers, down from 40 percent on uncontested jumpers in the regular season.
“We’ve had good looks,” Williams said Thursday. “We just got to stay confident and keep doing what we’re doing. We’re moving the ball. We’re getting open looks. We just got to knock them down.”
If a few more of those open looks went in (or just the one that Pierce missed), the Nets might have a 2-0 series lead.
The Raptors could say the same thing. Their numbers haven’t regressed quite as much as Brooklyn’s, but they shot just 10-for-39 (26 percent) from 3-point range and just 18-for-48 (38 percent) on uncontested jumpers in the first two games, according to SportVU.
And while the Nets know that they’ve been much better at home, the Raptors know that they’ve been good on the road. They allowed just 102.8 points per 100 possessions on the road, the seventh best mark in the league, and their 3-point defense was actually better on the road (34.8 percent) than it was at home (37.2 percent).
Both teams are likely more focused on other things. The Nets probably will continue to have the advantage in the turnover department and the Raptors probably will continue to have the advantage on the glass. This series may come down to who can make more open shots.