June 17, 2019

Dwyane Wade scores a triple-double for the Miami Heat in the last NBA game of his career, which was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY 

Wow, what an NBA season it has been for the Brooklyn Nets. During the 2018-19 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets have seen their share of adversities, but managed to push through and earned an NBA playoff spot. This will be the Brooklyn Nets first appearance in the NBA playoffs since 2015. Few observers at the beginning of the season predicted this team would be in the playoffs, as this season alone has been a rough ride getting here. Nevertheless, on Sunday, after defeating the Indiana Pacers, 108-96, the Nets improved its overall record to 41-40 and clinched a playoff spot.

With the Detroit Pistons’ losses and Orlando Magic’s wins against their respective opponents between Sunday and Wednesday night, the Nets earned a sixth-seeded playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference last night after defeating the Miami Heat 113-94.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes. Shabazz Napier posted 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 30 minutes off the bench; Rodions Kurucs totaled 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes; Treveon Graham added 11 points, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert each chipped in 10 points respectively. Hollis-Jefferson, who came off the bench, added 12 rebounds, three assists, and three steals to his points total, while LeVert added three rebounds and four assists.

Miami Heat’s guard Dwyane Wade, who played his last NBA game last night, scored a triple-double: a game-high 25 points, a team-high-tying 11 rebounds, and a game-high 10 assists in 36 minutes. Also, for Miami, Duncan Robinson accumulated 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists; Derrick Jones Jr. registered 13 points and four rebounds; Udonis Haslem scored 12 points and 11 rebounds, and; Bam Adebayo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

It was fitting that Dwyane Wade, who was playing the last game of his NBA career, scored a triple-double on his way out the door, but it almost didn’t happen.

“Yeah, probably literally an hour before the game he and I were talking,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told the assembled media postgame. “He had been on the table. The entire time he was here he did a bunch of treatment – at the hotel this morning. This morning he texted me saying he didn’t know if he would be able to go. He asked me what I thought, how he could make it worthwhile for everybody. He felt such a responsibility. We just said okay, we’ll see how you feel after treatment and get a little more rest until we get to the arena. I talked to him an hour before tip and he still didn’t feel great. His knee, his leg, wasn’t moving great. Just in typical Dwyane fashion he just figured he had to be there.”

“Since so many Dwyane Wade and Miami fans showed up, he felt such a responsibility,” Spoelstra continued. “That’s so awesome. I said this before – his next book has got to be called Moments. He knows how to capture moments as well as anybody that’s ever played this game. To play this game when he didn’t feel great and get a triple-double and get his last assist to Udonis Haslem the definition of capturing these moments and really giving everybody what they wanted.”

Asked whether he could have scripted it any better with a triple-double in his last game, Dwyane Wade responded: “No, I couldn’t have. Coming into a game like tonight, a bit out of the playoffs, for myself, these are tough games to play when you’re not playing for anything. I’m not the kind of player that will come out and just shoot the ball every time. Coming into the game, I wanted to see what I could do. To be able to help my teammates, definitely helped me out a lot to hear everyone cheering for me, to be able to go out that way was pretty cool. I don’t think about the Kansas game, but it was the same way in college. I got a triple-double towards the end then so that was pretty cool.”

With all the love heaped on Dwyane Wade last night, it was a challenge for the Brooklyn Nets to stay focus on the goal of getting a win despite having clinched a playoff spot, but with some work, they managed.

“You have to stay locked in,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell said. “But all the love and support that he has brought to this game and the love and support that he is getting on his way out is well deserved. You have to figure out a way to stay locked in but participate in the festivities as well. That dude is a legend. Just to see him on his way out like that, for me, it’s special. I got to be a part of Kobe’s (Bryant) and his, so I take that in a lot. It’s great to be on the floor.”

You can watch the first game featuring the Brooklyn Nets against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The second game is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and can be seen on TNT. Next, the Nets return home to the Barclays Center to play Game 3 on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and Game 4 on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., also on TNT.

 

Allen Crabbe’s “match made in heaven” could become the roadblock in the Brooklyn Nets' rebuilding plan, if he doesn't find his Brooklyn Grit

Last night was a sad night at the Barclays Center. The Brooklyn Nets rising star, guard Caris LeVert, was not in the lineup as he is recuperating from a subtalar dislocation of his right foot, an injury he sustained on Monday while playing the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The good news is that at this point, he does not need surgery and hopefully, he will return before the season ends. Another Nets rising star, Jarrett Allen, was also out because of an illness. So with two of the Nets best players out, the Nets lost to the 5-8 Miami Heat, 120-107 and dropped to 6-9 overall and 3-3 at the Barclays Center, while Heat’s record improves to 6-8.

Not sure why Brooklyn Nets head coach, Kenny Atkinson, gave guard Allen Crabbe his first start of the season in LeVert’s place instead of guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Comparing the two players prior to the game, Dinwiddie was averaging 13.9 points per game compared to Crabbe’s 6.5 ppg. There’s not much difference between Dinwiddie and Crabbe’s rebounds per game 2.4 vs. 3.3, but Dinwiddie leads Crabbe in the assist column, 4.1 vs. 1.2, as well as in the grit column.

At game’s end, Dinwiddie, who came off the bench, led all Nets scorers with 18 points (6-of-12 FG), three rebounds and five assists in 29 minutes. Looking at Dinwiddie’s numbers for the season, he has scored in double figures in 14 games, which marks the most games scored in double figures for a Nets reserve in the team's first 15 games of a season in franchise history (previously: 12 games for Armen Gilliam in the 1993-94 season). Dinwiddie also leads the NBA in double-digit scoring games off the bench this season (ahead of JJ Redick, Lou Williams, and Jordan Clarkson, who have all come off the bench in 13 games in the 2018-19 campaign).

Against the Miami Heat last night, Crabbe scored a measly six points and one rebound in 26 minutes of play. He also had six fouls, so you know what that means.

So, why did Coach Atkinson shuffle the deck to insert Crabbe in the starting lineup, which may have affected the team’s rhythm particularly when Crabbe doesn’t have the best track record?

“It’s just part of the NBA, it’s part of the deal,” Atkinson told the media postgame. “You are going to have injuries. We have to have guys that step up. I think that a lot of those units that we threw out there tonight hadn’t played a lot together, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. We know each other, we’ve been to training camp, but again I thought Miami was simply the better team. Sure it was the first quarter, but throughout the game, they were the better team.”

The fact that the Nets players and the coaching staff know each other and have watched players over the last 14 games of the season is enough reason to know that Crabbe should not have started to disrupt the team’s rhythm.

Nets forward Joe Harris in responding to reporters’ questions about whether there’s an issue finding a rhythm with the different lineups being thrown out there, particularly with LeVert unable to play, in effect makes the point.

“Yeah, I think it is definitely an issue, but that’s not an excuse for not playing good defense or making the effort plays, the hustle plays,” Harris responded. “A lot of that first quarter was just mental mistakes, lack of effort, and you can’t have that. We should still be able to have some continuity on the defensive end. Everyone’s familiar with what the philosophy is, what Kenny (Atkinson) expects out of us, what the coaching staff expects out of us. Obviously, we missed Caris (LeVert) a lot, and I think that’s reflective in the way that we played offensively tonight. But the defense has got to stay constant and that’s kind of where we lost our way.”

Missing Caris LeVert is natural, but in these situations, it needs to be not just the next man up, but the best next man up.

And, Jared Dudley, a veteran player the Nets acquired over the summer for a veteran voice in the locker room, makes my point on who needs to step up to the starting position after the loss of LeVert.

“I think Spencer (Dinwiddie) has to step up in a bigger role,” Dudley said. “I think you got to be more mentally locked in when it comes to attacking the basket when it comes to not settling, to getting guys involved. I think that’s where we need to take it from here. I think Allen Crabbe is someone who’s very more capable of coming in and boosting up his point scoring, so I think it’s by committee. Definitely, Spencer (Dinwiddie) should take up that role and that challenge of someone who is easily capable of upping his scoring five to six points and getting more shot attempts.

Nets scorers in double digits behind Dinwiddie were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson who posted 14 points, nine rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench. Hollis-Jefferson’s nine rebounds marked a season high for him. Shabazz Napier totaled 13 points (his third-most points in a game this season) with two rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench. Starters D’Angelo Russell added 12 points; Harris registered 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists in 25 minutes, and; Dudley chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, one steal, and one blocked shot.

The Miami Heat’s leading scorers were Tyler Johnson, who came off the bench to score 24 points and five rebounds. Goran Dragic put up 21 points, four assists, and three rebounds; Josh Richardson registered 15 points, five rebounds, and five assists; Hassan Whiteside tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, and two steals; Bam Adebayo, part of Miami’s second unit, accumulated 12 points and three rebounds, and; Rodney McGruder chipped in 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

Next up for the Miami Heat are the Indiana Pacers on Friday, November 16, 2018.

The Brooklyn Nets will play the first of a back-to-back against the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital also on Friday, November 16, 2018. They will return home to play the Los Angeles Clippers at the Barclays Center on Saturday, November 17, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

Hopefully, Allen Crabbe will find his heart in Washington, DC.

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