After an off shooting night in Toronto on Saturday, Kenny Atkinson stuck to his guns.
“Shoot more,” said Atkinson in his pregame availability on Sunday evening before the Nets beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 109-89. If there were 40 or 50 threes, that would be just fine.
Instead, things developed in the other direction as the Nets took a season-low 24 3-pointers.
“It was such a stark difference from the last game in Toronto,” said Spencer Dinwiddie. “Toronto played such great gap help that we had to pass. They made us pass and shoot a lot of threes and stuff like that, whereas Philly, you play more drop coverage, which means their two, three and four, their wing defenders, stay close of stay more attached to shooters. They play the pick-and-roll two-on-two, and we try to get downhill when that happens. Challenge the big if it’s a good screen. If it’s not a great screen, then the roll can possibly get behind the big, then we try to look for the lob. So it’s just two completely different defenses and you try to attack them in that specific defense’s weakness.”
With an emphasis on running shooters off the line, Philadelphia leads the NBA with the fewest amount of 3-pointers attempted (26.7) and made (9.4) per game.
“They actually play defense really similar to us, so it was almost like what we see in practice a lot of days where their emphasis was taking away 3-point shots, forcing guys to play in the mid-range or try and get downhill and finish over bigs, and we just did a good job all night long,” said Joe Harris. “Having Spencer attack downhill, he was either finishing at the rim, getting kickouts or moving the ball. We just did a good job not settling and trying to put pressure on them.”
“What do they do? They take away the three,” said Atkinson. “If they’re gonna be up on you at the 3-point line, then it’s gonna be a rim game where we’re attacking the rim. I know we were 19-for-30 at the rim in the first half, I don’t know what the second half numbers were. You really have to read the game. I thought our guys did an excellent job. They took away the three, we got to the rim a ton.”
The Nets ended up with 64 points scored in the paint, their fourth-highest total of the season, but it wasn’t an aberration. Brooklyn is fifth in the league with 51.9 points per game in the paint, a function of Jarrett Allen’s inside presence and their aggressive style. The Nets are fourth in the league with 51.9 drives per game, in addition to being sixth with 37.1 drives per game.
“It’s not one size fits all,” said Atkinson. “It’s really understanding the game that presents itself. We do an offensive scout too. What is Philly great at? They’re great at defending the 3-point line. They’re No. 1 in the league in forcing mid-range shots. Brett is obviously on top of the analytics, that’s for sure. But then the challenge is, instead of settling for those mid-range, can we get to the rim, can we get to the free throw line, and then shoot the threes when they present themselves.”
LOCKED IN ON A BACK-TO-BACK
The Nets posted a season-low in limiting the Sixers to 89 points on Sunday. Philadephia came into Brooklyn ranked seventh in the NBA in 3-point percentage (36.5) and the Nets held them to 5-of-26 shooting (19.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
“One of our best defensive performances since I’ve been here,” said Kenny Atkinson. “Collective — first group, second group — they’re a good offensive team, really top 10 in offensive efficiency, so just excellent, excellent defensive effort.”
The win snapped a two-game slide that had followed a 9-3 stretch for Brooklyn. But they’ve now beaten one of the top teams in each conference — Denver and Philadelphia — on successive Sundays. They’re headed to New Orleans and San Antonio looking to follow up.
“This was a good one for us,” said Temple. “Really good. Feel like we let one go in Charlotte. Fought hard in Toronto, didn’t make shots, but coming back and getting this win against a quality opponent on the second of a back-to-back, at six o’clock after a 7:30 game — NBA — but we needed that to springboard us into this road trip. New Orleans hasn’t been winning but they’ve been in every game. San Antonio’s the same, obviously a Pop coached team. We knew that we’ve got to lock in and try to get two in a row.”
ABOUT THE PELICANS
The New Orleans Pelicans are 6-21 and have lost their last 12 games. Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in last June’s draft, has yet to play. The Nets beat the Pelicans 135-125 in their previous meeting at Barclays Center on Nov. 4.
The Pelicans are ninth in the NBA in points with 112.8 per game but 29th in defensive rating (114.9). They’re fourth in both 3-pointers made (14.2) and attempted (38.8) and sixth in 3-point percentage (36.6).
Brandon Ingram leads New Orleans with 25.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while shooting 49.6 percent overall and 40.8 percent from 3-point range. He had 40 points on 17-of-24 shooting with five rebounds and five assists against the Nets the first time around.
Veteran guard Jrue Holiday averages 19.4 points, 6.8 assists and 5.0 rebounds and J.J. Redick averages 16.1 points while shooting 45.7 percent from 3-point range.