After a disappointing and injury-plagued season, the Brooklyn Nets are looking to end the year on a high note. Following an encouraging win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, the Nets looked to keep the momentum going heading into their Saturday game against the Chicago Bulls. Combining this desire with the Bulls looking to improve their draft position, this appeared to be a game that the Nets could win.
The Nets certainly took advantage of their opponent, as they demolished the Bulls in a 124-96 victory that was never particularly close. Brooklyn spread the floor masterfully and pummeled Chicago from deep while challenging the single game three-point record in the process. With only two games left in the season, including one against the Bulls on Monday night, the Nets are on track to finish the season strong
Jarrett Allen’s Block Party:
The Milwaukee Bucks saw the shot-blocking talents of Jarrett Allen first hand on Thursday night, as the 19-year-old rookie finished with a season-high five rejections. Allen has been Brooklyn’s best rim protector all season. However, like many young big men, he has also been foul prone and easy to bait into biting on shot fakes.That being said, Allen is far better at avoiding fouls now than he was at the start of the year.
Allen did not match his season-high in this game, but he did come close with four huge blocks. More critically, Allen finished with only two fouls in his 21 minutes of playing time. A critical component for Allen’s growth will hinge on his ability to leverage his athleticism for rim protection. He doesn’t always do a great job of turning back shots while keeping opponents away from the charity stripe. This game he certainly was able to accomplish that feat.
Dante Does the Dirty Work:
Since joining the Brooklyn Nets on February 10th, Dante Cunningham‘s contributions have mostly been of the variety that aren’t available in post game statistics. The versatile forward has capably covered for Brooklyn’s relative lack of depth inside. Cunningham spent the majority of his playing time in Brooklyn at center despite being mostly a small forward in New Orleans. His defensive intensity and screen-setting have both been hugely beneficial to the Nets’ system.
While Cunningham’s contributions do not usually show up in the box score, they did in this game. Dante pulled down 12 rebounds in 22 minutes–more than double that of the next-closest Net. Cunningham’s willingness to play inside allows the Nets to put floor spacers around him without losing out in the transition game. That three-point spacing was quite important to the Brooklyn Nets over the course of this game.
The Nets offense is heavily weighted towards three-point shooting since Kenny Atkinson took over as head coach. Brooklyn tilted odds in their favor with the long ball, increasing the game’s variance while playing to their skill set. The Nets are second in the league in three-point makes this season behind only the anomalous Houston Rockets. That deep shooting talent was on full display in this game.
The Brooklyn Nets poured in a franchise-record 24 triples in this game, falling just short of tying the NBA record of 25 three-pointers set by the Cleveland Cavaliers late last season. Quincy Acy led the charge with six triples, but nearly everyone chipped in. Even Jarrett Allen got on the board with his fifth three-ball of the season. The Brooklyn Nets are one of the teams at the forefront of the NBA’s trend towards more three-point heavy offenses. This game represented the pinnacle of that long-range attack.
Full ESPN Box Score available here.