For the Nets, game 2 seemed different than game 3, but really was the same. The Bulls defense dominated. A Nets rally made things interesting, but was too little too late.
I have discussed it. Steve Kerr has on air, as has Sam Mitchell. Advanced stats writers like John Schuhmann have. Local media have as well. When the Nets have gone with Wallace and Evans, and Stackhouse, they have struggled. And it’s not hard to see why. The Bulls are elite defensively, and playing Wallace with Evans gives them two guys they do not have to guard. That allows the defense to send two and three defenders at Deron, Joe, and Brook on every touch: there is no worry that they will be burned. As for Stackhouse, he is simply finished as a basketball player: he has no lift and just can’t shoot straight. Why his minutes have not gone to Bogans or Brooks is a mystery.
In the second quarter of game 2, the Nets went on a decent run playing with a lineup featuring Watson and Humphries, giving their big 3 space to operate they desperately need. At the end of game 2, the Nets went on a nice run to cut the Bulls lead to 5 by using Blatche and Watson. Tonight, the Nets nearly came all the way back in the fourth by going to Watson, Brooks, and Blatche. While the Nets lost, both games offered a glimpse into what they need to do to win the series.
And what the Nets need to do is simple. They need to play four or five guys at once that the defense must remain accountable to, and do so as much as possible. Deron Joe and Brook need to get 40 minutes (not 35), and they need to be surrounded as often as possible by Blatche, Watson, Brooks, perhaps Bogans, and to an extent, Humphries. This will open the floor up and give the Nets enough juice to score on Chicago. For all the struggles these two games, the Bulls scored 90 and 78 points: Nets just need to hit 90 and they will be fine going forward.
As John Schuhmann pointed out on Twitter, the Nets are -26 the past two games with the Wallace-Evans combo … and +11 when they are split up or both on the bench. The reasons are obvious. Wallace and Evans are physical players, and help the Nets bully around a team that is not as aggressive. But the Bulls are an all grit physical team that struggles to score. Rather than try to outgrit them, the Nets need to look to take advantage of the fact that they have a more talented team, and try to outscore them. That is just not going to happen with Wallace and Evans on the court together.
So when game 4 starts, sure the Nets are down 2-1. But the Heat were also down 2-1 to the Pacers last year before winning a championship: 2-1 is no death sentence. If the Nets look at what made them successful in games 2-3 (they lost 2 games by a combined 11 points, there are some positives), and do those things MORE in game 4, they can get right back in this series.
And that means one thing. More Blatche, Watson, Bogans, Brooks, and Humphries, depending on who is hot Saturday. Less Wallace and Evans. And no Stackhouse.
*For Nets lineup data consult NBA.com/Stats: http://stats.nba.com/teamLineups.html?TeamID=1610612751&Season=2012-13&SeasonType=Playoffs&LastNGames=2&GroupQuantity=2