Nets 111, Pacers 106: Second quarter struggles
Good news: the Brooklyn Nets are now the eighth seed in the East. They’ve just won four consecutive games for the first time this season. Brook Lopez is destroying everything in his path, including tonight’s 24-point, 11-rebound performance against one of the league’s best defenders in Roy Hibbert.
Bad news: the Brooklyn Nets are still disappearing in second quarters.
We’ll get back to that in a moment, but for now:
Okay, the Nets aren’t there yet, but this game was huge. Brooklyn now owns the tiebreaker with the Pacers and have a ton of momentum heading into the home stretch. Here’s how they did it:
The Nets got off to their best first quarter of the season, outscoring the Pacers 33-15. 33-15! Only one other time this season have the Nets outscored a team by that much in a single period. The pick-and-roll was carving Indiana’s defense apart. The Pacers were hellbent on attacking Lopez with Hibbert on the offensive end, and it didn’t work out well. Brooklyn hit four threes and shot 61.9% from the field in the quarter while Indy shot 31.6%. Joe Johnson was moving the ball and Deron Williams looked very good.
Then the second quarter arrived and the Pacers kind of sort of maybe came back after scoring 39 points in the period. Doesn’t matter, we’ll get back to this later.
With both teams neck-and-neck in the second half, the game came down to crunch time. The Nets pulled away behind a timely defensive stop and score on the other end. Lopez led the way but two other Nets scored over 20 points in Alan Anderson and Joe Johnson. Bojan Bogdanovic couldn’t repeat his success against the Pacers with an empty stat line and -16 outing in eight minutes. Jarrett Jack had 13 points and four assists but did so in that Jarrett Jack fashion that makes you cringe.
Now, to the Nets and how they fare in second quarters. Spoiler alert: poorly.
On the season, Brooklyn’s getting outscored by 3.3 points per 100 possessions. In first quarters, the Nets are beating their opponents by 3.9 points per 100 possessions. The third and fourth quarters fall in the shallow negatives. As for the second, teams are scorching the Nets to the tune of a 10.8 points per 100 possessions advantage. That’s the third worst mark in the league, and it’s a problem because Brooklyn is 18-12 in games where they tie or outscore the opposition in the second. When getting beat in the period the Nets are 14-38.
But why, despite being a pretty solid first quarter team, do the Nets falter in every facet once the first 12 minutes are behind them? Ball movement dies and the defense lags in the second quarter. Everything goes south. We know this, but why do they occur? Here are some theories.
The bench stinks
The two most popular lineups in terms of minutes played and games started for the Nets are Williams-Bogdanovic-Johnson-Garnett-Lopez and the current day Williams-Brown-Johnson-Young-Lopez grouping. Thing is, these lineups are pretty good. The former was a +3.6 points per 100 possessions while the latter is a spectacular +14.3.
Meanwhile, Mason Plumlee and Jarrett Jack (whose names don’t appear above) are two of the worst Nets in on-court NetRTG among those who have played 500-plus minutes this season. It just so happens that Jack plays 7.6 second-quarter minutes a night, though Plumlee has played more minutes in every other quarter than the second. There’s not a huge connection here, and it would be tough to find one anywhere considering how much Brooklyn’s rotation has shifted all season long. 11 different players have started 10+ games for the Nets this season. Moving on.
The Nets are old
Should be the obvious one, right? The Nets have banked on a lot of older guys this season and so naturally, the squad gets run down after the first quarter and starts getting lethargic in the second. Boom. Done. We nailed it.
Except, since the Nets got plenty younger and more athletic at the All-Star break, they’ve actually gotten worse in second quarters. Despite putting Brown in the starting five, trading for Young and ditching Kevin Garnett, the Nets are actually getting burned more in the second period. Their pace is also relatively unaffected so it’s not as if players just fall asleep.
Who the heck knows here are some shot charts
So after some mind-numbing statistics escapades and film watching, nothing seems to click. There’s no one problem. The Nets as a whole just stink in the second quarter.