Against the Celtics, the Nets had their best game of the season, their most complete. These are the words of James Harden, after the game. The offense was efficient and balanced when the defense held Boston to just 104 points, with low percentages (37% shooting success, 23% at 3-pts).
This meeting thus illustrates Brooklyn’s defensive progress. Steve Nash’s players have entered the League’s Top 10 best defenses this season, where they were more in the final third last season.
« A few players have arrived », says DeAndre ‘Bembry to the New York Post. “With guys like me, James Johnson and Patty Mills who are aggressive. Bruce Brown has been out for a few games, but he’s very active in the Major Five, and with him Kevin Durant and James Harden are focused. We’re in it, we’re aggressive. This is one of the keys to the last offseason: they wanted aggressive players. «
It is not only the fact of adding defenders that has taken a step forward. Kevin Durant clarifies that he and the Nets have also « Changed their defensive covers a bit ».
A tactic that relieves veterans
The “bit” of the 2014 MVP is in the pick-and-roll situations. Brooklyn players changed very often after the screen last season, with the inside ending up on the outside player. This season, they are using more “drop coverage”, meaning that the interior remains lower.
« It’s a good thing and it works for us », confirms DeAndre ‘Bembry. “We now know our defense: we cover and make things complicated for the outsiders, when they want to go inside. We try to do that, especially when Blake Griffin is at the hub. He has to deal with players who are taller than him, so severing the relationship with the inside helps us a lot. The exteriors try to stick the other exteriors, to force them to shoot at mid-distance or to attempt a floater. Then we can change and we get the matchup we wanted. «
For Steve Nash, it is certainly a tactical choice but it is also an “easy” solution since neither Blake Griffin nor LaMarcus Aldridge can really influence when it is necessary to change in defense. Faced with younger and faster exteriors, the two veterans suffer and open huge breaches.
In this sense, the future return of Nic Claxton, much more comfortable to « switch », will thus give the coach one more option.
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