As we know, the Nets go into Chicago for games 3 and 4 up against the gun after falling flat in game 2 against Tom Thibodeau’s defense.
Throughout the game, Steve Kerr validated Nets fans everywhere by criticizing the Nets for playing Wallace and Evans together for large portions of the game. Kerr repeatedly stated what I and many Nets fans have been saying for a while. When the Nets go with Wallace and Evans at once, they play two pieces the opponent does not have to guard, which means that the other 3 Nets are forced to dribble into Fort Knox to try to get a shot off against a defense loading up on them. When the Nets go big with Wallace and Humphries, the problem remains. Going smaller would enable the Nets to put a fourth shooter in the floor, at least force the Bulls to account for that player, and open up some driving lanes for Deron Joe and Brook. Kerr would relate back to this example whenever Watson was on the floor and point to how much more open and spaced driving lanes were.
The Bulls are too elite defensively to put two players on the floor that they do not have to guard. Yes, going smaller and with more scoring makes matching up with Boozer tougher, but this also gives Boozer a tougher assignment on defense. Perhaps a smaller defender like Wallace will harass Boozer more defensively too; Boozer is not athletic and may struggle scoring on a better athlete.
With that, I asked many of you on Twitter to send me some lineup combinations that you all like for this Nets team. Here they were:
1) Deron-Watson-Joe-Wallace-Lopez: 2 of our followers recommended this lineup. This is an excellent lineup for the Nets because it gives the Nets a ton of shooting and speed. Watson has played well all series, and a Deron-Watson combo would help the Nets get into transition, something they did in game 1 and need to do more of in game 2. Wallace has played better at the 4, as a screener and cutter than at the 3, as a spot up shooter, all season, and Watson has to be accounted for on the perimeter. This lineup would create driving lanes for the big 3.
2) Deron-Joe-Wallace-Blatche-Lopez: Two followers also recommended this lineup. This is a nice lineup because it features Lopez and Blatche together. Too often this season, Lopez gets on a roll and PJ is reluctant to take him out and go to Blatche. Or Blatche gets going, and PJ leaves Lopez sitting for an eternity. This lineup would feature the Nets two longest players and best finishers inside. It would require Thibodeau to station an extra defender inside to keep them out of the paint, and result in much better looks for Deron and Joe.
3) Deron-Watson-Joe-Humphries-Lopez: This is a nice balanced lineup for the Nets. It maximizes the Nets’ ability to hurt you from the outside by pairing Watson with the starting backcourt. It also gives the Nets a mix of scoring and toughness up front, more so than what Blatche provided. If Humphries is hitting his 10-15 footer and gets back to his 2011-2012 form, this lineup can be an excellent one.
4) Deron-Watson-Joe-Blatche-Lopez: Two followers recommended this lineup. I love this lineup for a simple reason: it puts the Nets best 5 players on the court together. With how Blatche played all year, and how Watson played in the second half and now, this group in my opinion puts the Nets top 5 guys on the court. And yet, I saw a Tweet during game 2 that said this group has played just SEVEN minutes together all year. Unreal.
5) Deron-Joe-Wallace-Mirza-Lopez: This lineup would be interesting for the Nets, with Wallace being a 3 on defense and 4 on offense, flip flopping with Mirza. Mirza would definitely provide the Nets with some shooting, but you wonder if PJ is willing to go back to him.
I will say I am surprised none of the suggestions had Bogans or Brooks. Bogans is cold right now, but has hit the 3 all season and served as a steadying influence. Brooks is out of the rotation but a gamble on him may provided some needed pop.
And with that, here’s an open letter to Deron Williams:
On February 23, 2011, I was a Nets fan without much to hold onto. Coming off a 12-70 season, the Nets had nothing except bold proclamations from Mikhail Prokhorov, and an aggressive General Manager in Billy King who chased superstars, but did just that. But then, Billy hit pay dirt. He got you. You were the man in Utah. In four consecutive playoff seasons, you advanced out of the first round three times and reached a Western Conference Finals. My excitement could not be measured. I still remember doing school work that morning and going onto Twitter for a quick break, and welcoming myself to a barrage of Tweets about the Nets getting Deron Williams. It was one of the best days ever.
And while you struggled with injuries, I defended you. You struggled in New Jersey, but it was because the roster was a mess. You struggled in the first half of this season, but you were injured. And then you put up a monster second half as we went 18-11 and coasted to the 4 seed.
But now our Nets are in trouble, Deron, and we need you. We lost home court advantage after a game in which you shot 11%.
Because here’s the thing, Deron. We traded two #3 picks in the draft (Favors and Kanter) and Devin Harris with no hopes that we would keep you, for you. We aggressively targeted Dwight Howard and left the powder dry as talented pieces like David West and Nene changed teams, for you. We nearly alienated Brook Lopez with constant trade rumors and probably alienated MarShon Brooks, for you. We traded the 6th pick in the draft for Gerald Wallace, for you. We took on Joe Johnson’s monster contract, for you. Half our roster shares an agent with you, likely for you. We fired Avery Johnson after you criticized his playbook, perhaps for you. As for the cherry on top: we gave you a $98.7 million contract.
We laid out the red carpet for you, Deron. And we did it for one reason: we want to put together a championship contender here in Brooklyn, and we see you as the linchpin.
And now that we are 1-1 with the Bulls, and lost homecourt advantage, us fans ask one thing of you. Make it all worth it. Go into Chicago, put Brooklyn on your back, and take home at least one win. Take this series home. Be the Deron Williams you were post all star break, the one that made me tickled silly about what Brooklyn’s first team would look like when we acquired you.
Be Deron Williams.