The Celtics were missing Rajon Rondo and lost Shaquille O’Neal in the first half. They could have been without Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett ande Ray Allen and Boston probably still would have beaten the Nets.
Playing uninspired and careless, the Nets were throttled by Boston in a game that brought back memories of last season. The final score was 100-75 this afternoon, but the game wasn’t nearly that close.
Avery Johnson has some work to do.
You’re going to have bad games like this, especially against a far superior foe. But the Nets just looked like they were beaten very early on, like they were feeling the effects of going triple-OT on the second game of a back-to-back Wednesday and then overtime on Friday before losing.
Regardless, there is no excuse for it. The Nets didn’t practice Saturday so they had an opportunity to refresh.
Now you know what’s going to happen. Johnson is going to push them at practice Monday, make sure they know this kind of performance is not acceptable. He may not send the kind of message Johnson did by holding a pre-game shootaround the morning after the Nets were beaten in Philadelphia.
But Johnson did say this was the Nets’ third bad game of the year and mentioned Philly as one of them.
“Just back to work tomorrow,” Devin Harris said was Johnson’s message after the game. “That’s all you need to know. Back to work tomorrow.”
Johnson has to find a way to get the Nets easier looks or shots they can make, get Brook Lopez more involved, get more from the power forward rotation, and get everyone understanding the importance of blocking out his man.
It’s not that Johnson hasn’t done all of the above. He has, but the Nets are in a bad way with 15 losses in the last 19 games and in the midst of a very critical point.
The Nets play a tough schedule – their next three games are at Atlanta and Dallas and home for the Lakers. This four-game losing streak easily could turn into seven in a hurry.
Then the Nets play host to the Sixers and Wizards before going to Toronto. Those aren’t gimmes either. None are for the Nets. After that, five of the Nets' next seven games are on the road and the home games are against the Hawks and Magic.
Unless Lopez snaps out of his funk and everyone crashes the boards this stretch could become more daunting. The Nets are being beaten badly on the boards the last two games, which is nothing but effort and that’s the main thing the Nets didn’t play with today.
That probably bothers Johnson more than anything, especially after he’s constantly praising the Nets for their resilience and always showing fight.
“There was none tonight in no area,” Johnson said. “This is probably our third bad game of the year - Miami at home, Philly on the road and tonight.
“We thought we would have some energy. We didn’t. Devin wasn’t his normal explosive self. I could just go on and on down the list. We’ll get to practice tomorrow, have a good practice and hopefully have better carryover on the road.”
We wanted Johnson to go down the list but there really was no need. The stat sheet and scoreboard told the whole story.
The Nets shot 37.5 percent and Boston 50.6. The Nets scored 28 points in the second and third quarters combined. Boston had 30 in the second. The Celtics had 52 points in the paint, the Nets 28. Boston grabbed 49 rebounds, the Nets 36.
More ugly numbers: Kevin Garnett had 13 points and 14 rebounds or two more points and five more boards than the Nets’ starting frontline. And Garnett only played 26:35.
It was a terrible performance all the way around from the Nets. But now it’s back to work. And if it wasn’t obvious before the season started it is now – Johnson has plenty of work to do.
“Just a terrible second quarter. Just a terrible second quarter. They jumped all over us in the second quarter and we never recovered. They just looked a championship team. They didn’t come in trying to mess around. They took it to us. Our defense was a little soft early in the game and they exploited it. They had 32 points in the paint in the first half so they really put us on our heels. They were talking much more, they were much more physical and we were on our heels all night.”
- Johnson on the game
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Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)