By Kristian Cuaresma
The Defense Continues to Complicate Things
Prior to last night, NetsGC had given up 90 or more points just once in its previous 22 regular season games. During yesterday’s matchup against Toronto, Brooklyn allowed Raptors Uprising to score at least 90 points in both of its matchups. The team has participated in explosive contests like this before, and often, they’ve been able to outsprint their opponents to the finish line.
However – this was a different kind of shootout.
NetsGC scored an impressive 95 points in Game One and still lost by four. It looked encouraging early on, with Dante continuing his recent success from the perimeter, knocking down each of his shots in the opening frame. Choc continued his MVP-worthy season, finishing with 45 points and 14 assists. Meanwhile, Shotz was 10-of-10 from the field, which was his fourth perfect shooting performance of the season.
On an average night, that would have been good enough for NetsGC to come away with a win, but this wasn’t a typical night. Both teams would combine for 194 points in the first game, and unfortunately, Brooklyn would end up on the wrong side of the fire fight.
A Friendly Reminder from Dimez
Going into tonight’s two-game set, the former Mavs Gaming point guard was averaging 24.7 points, 9.6 assists on 54 percent shooting. Against NetsGC, Dimez exploded for an average of 28.5 points, 13.0 assists while shooting 70 percent from the field.
Despite just recently arriving at his new home – and in an entirely different country – the former No. 1 overall pick looked comfortable as he reminded everyone why he was so highly touted coming into the league. According to Toronto, Dimez didn’t even get a chance to scrimmage with his new teammates, but he seemingly fit right in at the most important position on the floor. While most top ball handlers will hunt for threes off the screen, Dimez was unstoppable from the mid-range area, consistently getting what he wanted once he penetrated the second level of the defense.
How Do We Gauge This Game?
For NetsGC followers, last night’s two-game series is a tricky barometer to read. While there are certainly defensive issues during the matchups, subscribing to the fact that NetsGC dropped two consecutive games to a bottom-dwelling team is a bit of an oversimplification. Although Toronto was last place in the Eastern Conference headed into last night’s matchup, the lineup it used last night is vastly different from the roster that stumbled to a 5-17 record.
Not many teams are able to keep up with NetsGC when the team is determined to race to 100 points, but Raptors Uprising proved they were more than capable. The addition of Dimez clearly resulted in an inspired performance from the rest of the roster. Kenny Got Work and Timelycook – the only returning players from Toronto’s undefeated season last year – looked like their former dominant selves.
The question for Brooklyn is how much of this performance can be attributed to playing a team fresh off making a big trade. It has happened countless times in professional sports before, with players feeling energized by a groundbreaking trade that brings a new hope and resets the season. The mental gymnastics required to view the new-look Raptors Uprising as better than its current record may not remove the bad tase out of NetsGC’s mouth, but it could put things into better perspective moving forward.