Nets send Celtics into Game 5 with ruthless efficiency

Despite their limited time together during the regular season, the Big 3 of the Nets have shown just how powerful they can be in this series.

The Brooklyn Nets went about business on Tuesday night, ending their first-round streak against the Boston Celtics with a 123-109 win in Game 5. They likely left the Celtics (missing three starters for a second straight game) to hang around. for too long, but got the separation they needed with a remarkably efficient fourth trimester.

Here are three numbers to know about the Nets as they prepare for the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they face the Milwaukee Bucks in a series that begins in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Historically effective offense

The statistics : In five games against the Celtics, the Nets have scored 128.0 points per 100 possessions.

The context: It was the most effective offense for any team in any series in the 25 years for which we have play-by-play data (362 total series as of Tuesday).

Most efficient playoff series, since 1997

Team Year Round Opponent Games OffRtg
Brooklyn 2021 First round Boston 5 128.0
Cleveland 2018 Conf. semi-finals Toronto 4 126.7
Cleveland 2017 Conf. finals Boston 5 126.7
Orlando 2010 Conf. semi-finals Atlanta 4 124.0
Phoenix 2005 First round Memphis 4 123.3

OffRtg = Points scored for 100 possessions

The Nets were coming off the most efficient regular season in NBA history, where they scored 117.3 points per 100 possessions, although Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving played together in just eight of their 72 games. . And with the three stars playing all five games, the Nets have had the most improved offensive in the first round, with a 10.3 percent jump from the regular season.

The Nets led the Celtics shorthanded just seven points after the third quarter of Game 5. And then they scored 34 points on their first 16 possessions in the fourth, barely needing to commit any infractions. At one point, Durant, Irving and Harden scored 3 points from the same spot on the floor on three straight possessions. Durant came on one isolation against Tristan Thompson, Irving came on in transition and Harden came on another isolation against Marcus Smart.

Although the Nets have three of the best isolation players in the world, switching screens and letting them play one-on-one seemed to be better for the Celtics than playing a more standard pick-and-roll defense or bring two defenders to the ball. If the situation called for it, the Nets stars were ready to move the ball and find the open man.

The Bucks will be a much stronger defensive team than Boston. In their first-round sweep, the Bucks kept the Miami Heat at just 95.4 points per 100 possessions, the lowest score for any team in any series in the past five years. It will therefore be the attack n ° 1 and the defense n ° 1 of the first round which will confront each other.

Defensive issues

The statistics : In five games, the Celtics have scored 115.9 points per 100 possessions

The context: Although they were without Jaylen Brown for the entire series and without Kemba Walker for Games 4 and 5, the Celtics also scored more effectively than in the regular season. And their 115.9 percent was the third most effective playoff series for a losing team in the past 25 years.

With the quality of their offense, the Nets didn’t need to be very good defensively. And they were do not very good defensively. The Celtics scored over 130 points per 100 possessions in Games 3 and 4, which were two of their five most effective games of the season.

Some of the Nets’ defensive problems were illustrated in this space after Game 4, and they had After of those same problems Tuesday. For the series, they only recovered 64.5% of available defensive rebounds, the third lowest score for a team in a series in the past five years.

After Boston, the best offensive rebounding team in the first round was… the Bucks, who have clawed back 33.6% of available offensive boards in their four games against Miami.

Small ball

The statistics : Durant played 66 minutes without Blake Griffin or Nicolas Claxton on the ground.

The context: Twenty-two of those 66 minutes came with Jeff Green on the ground before Green suffered from a strained plantar fascia in his left foot. Whether Green (6-8) or Durant (6-10) is the center of these alignments is in the eye of the beholder. But most of those minutes (66/5 = 13.2 per game) went without Green.

DeAndre Jordan (who was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s main defenseman in the regular season) didn’t play in the series at all. Griffin played 102 minutes and Claxton played 66, the same number the Nets played small for.

Net efficiency, by center

On the ground MIN OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
Griffin 102 135.1 114.4 +20.6
Claxton 66 115.3 115.4 -0.1
Durant without ni 66 129.9 116.7 +13.3

OffRtg = Points scored for 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Points differential per 100 possessions

The Nets’ defensive rebound percentage in those cross-less minutes (66.2%) was slightly higher than it was overall (64.5%), and the overall defense was not very good. , whatever the configuration. Playing the Bucks will put more pressure on protecting Brooklyn’s rim, so we’ll see if the Nets bring Jordan back. Durant is fourth in the playoffs with 2.2 blocks per game.

The green would obviously give more size to the Nets to the four in these lines of small balls. According to the Nets’ initial schedule, his foot should be reassessed on Sunday, between Games 1 and 2 of the conference semifinals.

Time will tell if the next series calls for more little balls. It will certainly require better defense, both from the Nets and the Bucks.

* * *

John Schuhmann is a Senior Statistics Analyst for NBA.com. You can email him here, find his archives here and follow him on twitter.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.




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