Monday Recap (May 8)
HEAT/NETS (Game 1): Nets 100-Heat 88
- The Nets came out firing on all cylinders and never let up besides a minor blip in the middle of the 4th quarter. The Nets were downright deadly from the field in the first half, specifically from the perimeter. I do not remember this New Jersey team ever shooting the ball like that from outside, and I don't think it is a trend that will continue.
- The Heat looked overwhelmed once again on the defensive end from the opening tap. I know the Nets were unusually hot from the perimeter, but the Heat defense was still having a mighty tough time containing the Nets' Big 3 on the perimeter. Riley can try to use all the motivational tactics in his arsenal, I don't think they will have much effect: the Heat just look too slow. Granted, it did not help that Shaq was in foul trouble again, but even when he's in the game the Nets were taking it into the paint and they can get him in pick/rolls. I think Riley needs to go with Alonzo more (if his health is ok) to at least provide some sort of impediment in the Heat defense. Also, letting the Nets get 21 fast break points is not a trend you want to continue, cause the Heat can't get into an uptempo affair.
- The Net offense surprised me with their accuracy from the perimeter, especially Kidd. Kidd had a super overall game (22 pts., 9 rebs., 7 assts.), but it was his 4/6 from 3pt. that caught me off guard. If I am the Heat, I still give the open looks from outside cause he should not shoot like this too often. I really like the way that Vince looked to stay aggressive by putting the ball on the deck toward the basket. It paid off, by him getting to the line 19 times and drawing some fouls on Shaq. Jefferson was having a great game before the ankle sprain (20 pts. on 7/11).
- The Nets defense put in another solid job holding the Heat to 39.1% from the floor. They did a good job handling Shaq one-on-one for most of the game. Like I mentioned before, Collins is one of the better 5-spot defenders in the NBA and he has decent girth to challenge Shaq. Also, John Thomas did a very adequate job competing with Shaq when given some minutes. They were also very active with their hands causing turnovers.
SUNS/CLIPPERS (Game 1): Suns 130-Clippers 123
- A high scoring contest where defense was a mere afterthought. The Suns got a pace they love and they got good opportunities to chuck up threes (12 made). They will not complain if the Clippers want to keep playing this way.
- It really was not anything wrong with the Clippers' offense, they pretty much got want they wanted, it was their decisions on the defensive end (Suns shot 54.7%) The Clips did not play up to their reputation as a top-rated squad. I know the Suns can make the very best defenses look inadequate often, it is just that the Clips still made some mental blunders. The Clips seemed to be over doubling--the only guy who needs multiple guys near him is Nash--the Clips were doubling guys like Raja Bell, which in turn left shooters open. This is what the Suns want. This leads into the fact that the Clippers let up 12 3pt. makes. I feel you have to restrain yourselves from helping vs. the Suns as much as possible, and try to stick right on your man, especially on the 3pt. line. I think you have to sacrifice some easy two-point attempts to the Suns while discouraging the 3 as much as possible. The Suns want as many easy extra points as they can get, since they will give up so much on defense; they are still just trying to simply outscore you, not stop you. The 3pt. shot gives them an extra point per possession (there is 12 points right there in Game 1), you start forcing them to accept 2-pointers instead there is more pressure on their defense.
- The Clippers' offense had little to complain about--Clips shot 59.3%. Brand was an absolute force down low everytime he got the ball (18/22, 40 points). No doubt this will continue the entire series, and the Clips have to ride him all the time. One minor concern for the Clips' offense in this game was the sloppy turnovers (14 total) and forced shots--although Cassell had a good game, he took about 4-5 bad shots in the 2nd half. They have to get better possessions vs. the Suns, cause the Suns take advantage of them better than any team in the NBA.
- Dunleavy's decision making has me scratching my head again. I thought he should have ridden Radmanovic more. If Kaman is not going to do damage on the offensive end, you got to get him out of there. I felt that Vlad did a pretty solid job defending when he was in there, something he's not known for, and he helps spread the floor which Ross & Livingston do not. Dunleavy also made a peculiar decision to go to Livingston on the post late in the game, when he had Brand out there. Dunleavy's late-game acumen has to be questioned after he was shaky in the Denver series in Games 1 & 3.