As always, hot hands in the Backcourt is the key

As always, hot hands in the Backcourt is the key

As Brooklyn’s backcourt goes, so go these Nets.

That is a point this column loves to make, but the necessity of dominant play from Brooklyn pricey smaller guys was on full display during the first two games of the Nets first-round playoff series with the Bulls.

In Game One, Deron Williams had 22 points, seven assists and three steals, including one in which he ripped the ball from Luol Deng’s hands and threw down a double-clutch reverse slam on the other end that should be Exhibit A for purveyors of the platelet-rich plasma injected into D-Will’s ankles in February. Joe Johnson had 16, four boards, and four assists. Even Gerald Wallace, who has looked like D-League material for much of the season, got in on the action with 14 points, six boards and two blocks. All made more than half of their shots.

Fast-forward to Game Two. Deron goes 1 of 9 for eight points, Joe has 17 but just nets 33 percent shooting, and Gerald Wallace returns to his regular-season form with two points on seven shots. That’s not exactly the production Nets’ brass wants to see from three contracts totaling nearly $240 million.

True, a lot of teams depend on the success of their backcourt. But few have a frontcourt star as consistent as Brooklyn’s, and one that shifts attention to the trials of its high-paid ballhandlers. In the Game One blowout of the Bulls, Brook Lopez had 21 points on 7 of 15 shooting from the field, and made 7 of 7 from the line. In the Game Two loss, Lopez had 21 points on 7 of 14 shooting from the field, 7 of 8 from the line.

For D-Will specifically, achieving greater consistency is largely a matter of shot selection. Of his nine shots in Game Two, five were missed threes. For many players, confidence is rooted in whether their shots go in early. Before D-Will had made a basket in Game Two, he had already hoisted a couple of long threes. In Game One, he began the night by making a driving layup, and went on to make two-of-three from three-point land. Williams may have hit an NBA-record nine treys in the first half against Washington in March, but most nights don’t start with such a hot hand.

“I didn’t play good,” Williams told reporters after the embarrassment of Game Two. “I’m not going to play like this again.”

Those are words a player as important to his club as D-Will must take to heart. Another performance like that is one step closer to a quick playoff exit for Brooklyn.

Matt Spolar is a nearly 6-foot-1 journalist with a middling high school basketball career who is sure the Nets win thanks to team’s top-tier guards.

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