On Call, Carlesimo Reviews and Readies for Game Three
April 23, 2013 · 4:55 p.m.
After sleeping on it, Brooklyn Nets interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo decided the second look at Monday's 90-82 Game Two defeat matched the instant analysis: the Nets just have to do a better job against the Bulls, from the coaches on down through the players. They need a gameplan to get stops, stops to get rebounds, rebounds to create transition, transition to avoid Chicago's halfcourt defense and then points to compound the pressure.
As the series heads to United Center with the Nets and Bulls tied, 1-1, Carlesimo joined team reporters on a conference call, taking time to discuss what happened and what's to come of their opportunity to retake control in Chicago on Thursday (8:30pm; NBA TV, My9, WFAN).
Where the loss leaves the team:
"Our guys all year have not been excuse guys. When we didn't play well or as well as we're capable of playing, we know it's on us. Deron (Williams) sets the tone that way – if anything he's too hard on himself, but I'd much rather have that attitude. I think our guys all feel we let ourselves down and we didn't play as well as we're capable of playing, even giving credit to the Bulls for having lot to do with that."
Brooklyn's lead guard struggled through perhaps his first down game since the All-Star break in Game Two, scoring just eight points on 1-of-9 shooting (1-5 3Ps). But he found other ways to contribute, chipping in 10 assists, a steal and a block; Carlesimo credited him with defending well and controlling the ball (only two turnovers). After the game, Williams vowed to reporters the performance will prove aberrant: "I'm not going to play like this again."
Carlesimo credited the Bulls with getting two players over to Williams, forcing action, and then contesting his shots whenever Williams penetrated past the intial layer of defense. The coach took on the burden of not making enough play calls that put Williams in position to succeed, and also noted that the Nets need to play more in the open floor, as they did in Game One, to take advantage of Williams' superior decision-making abilities in transition.
On the battles underneath:
"When our guys feel they've got an advantage, they've got to finish and they've got to finish strong. It's going to be physical, there's not going to be clean shots. It's not going to be easy: there will be bumps, be physcialtity. That line is not always an easy line to walk. We want our guys to be strong inside and not to look to get fouled, but be strong taking it to the basket and make the refs make a call. Sometimes it looks like they forced a shot, but you can't always get a good shot and can't just say, 'I'm wide open' or 'I'm not.'
"We're both better half court than full court, so this game figures to be like that, this series figures to be a lot about the paint and it can't not be physical inside. It's not about fouling, it's about protecting your space, it's about boxing out, it's about challenging guys when they come to the rim. Matching or exceeding their physicality is just a day of work when we're playing them. I think we would both agree that whichever team is able to be more physical (will win). We could go out and commit 100 fouls, but I wouldn't consider that playing physical. It's playing basketball, and at the same time being strong and protecting our space and staying between our man and the basket and boxing out when the shot goes up there, not letting them get the inside position."
Despite the Nets' overall shooting struggles on Monday (.354 FG%, .190 3P%), the big men posted a solid offensive showing, led by Brook Lopez's 21 points (7-14 FGs, 7-8 FTs). Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche and Kris Humphries combined to chip in another 20 (9-19 FGs). They'll need to build on that silver lining, helping their teammates improve the squad's 15-of-36 shooting inside the paint, which helped contribute to a minus-12 differential in PIP scoring.
On heading to Chicago for Game Three:
"We're not uncomfortable playing on the road, and it's not like they're 36-5 or anything at home. If I recall from during the year, they won on the road and at home and there wasn't a huge disacrecpancy between the records (Road: 21-20; Home: 24-17). Hopefully it's not going to be a big difference; hopefully it's going to be the same thing. We've got to beat them. I like playing them at Barclays than playing them at the United Center, but I do think we're comfortable playing on the road. It's not going to be about the building – it's going to be about the guys in the white uniforms."
Brooklyn's first foray through the NBA schedule resulted in a franchise-best 23 road victories, amazingly the first time since the Nets joined the league in 1976 that the team's road record was a winning one. Yet the Nets dropped both matchups with the Bulls at United Center, and Chicago certainly gained momentum with Game Two's victory. This Nets team is a veteran one filled with playoff-experienced players who know never to get too high or low with the inevitable swings of a series. Expect renewed focus and execution at the start of Game Three, and a Nets effort that should keep things within striking distance of another road victory in a season filled with them.
Game Three is set for 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday (April 25), and will be broadcast by NBA TV nationally, WWOR-TV/My9 locally and also WFAN 660 AM / 101.9 FM.
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