1. Nets look to get better looks
The Brooklyn Nets shot just 37.9 percent in their loss Monday night to the Boston Celtics, who blocked a Brooklyn era opponent-record 16 shots.
Joe Harris was another Net on the injury report headed into Monday’s game, dealing with a sore right hip. Harris started, but was ineffective in 19 minutes, hitting just 2-of-8 overall and going 1-for-4 from 3-point range while scoring five points.
Rodions Kurucs also struggled to get his shot off, as he was 1-for-9 overall and 1-for-3 from deep in 26 minutes.
The Celtics used Kurucs’ creativity and fearlessness against him, as the rookie was able to get into the paint, but Boston was prepared for his creative finishes and simply snuffed them out.
Harris and Kurucs weren’t the only Nets who struggled to get the ball into the basket. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson shot just 7-of-19, Shabazz Napier went 6-for-16 and Theo Pinson –coming off a career-high 19 points in Friday’s win over the New York Knicks — was just 1-for-5.
Boston is one of the NBA’s best defensive teams, ranking in the top-five of the NBA in defensive rating and opponent field-goal and 3-point percentage.
While the Bulls are not a bad defensive team, they are nowhere near the level of the Celtics and Brooklyn has been able to get good looks against Chicago in both of their previous meetings.
Teams are extending their defenses out beyond the 3-point line to deal with Brooklyn’s high pick-and-roll sets out of their 5-out looks and the Nets have to be patient and persistent in both their off-ball movement and with ball-handlers waiting for the screens to be set before making a move.
Brooklyn’s guards have run their bigs into some offensive fouls by starting their moves off those screens too quickly, before the screener is fully set. That has led to foul problems at times for both Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis while also disrupting the flow of the offense.
Chicago is capable of winning on the road — the Bulls’ lone victory this month was a 104-88 road clubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 21 — and the Nets, being as thin as they are, can’t take anyone for granted.
The Bulls are on the front end of a road back-to-back Tuesday night — Chicago plays the Miami Heat on South Beach Wednesday night — and if Brooklyn can get a working lead early, the Bulls might opt to choose to fight another day.