Deron Williams has participated in 630 regular season and postseason games since entering the NBA in 2005. Like any other prominent player, he has experienced poor shooting nights but none as poor in a big spot as Game 2.
Williams was 1-for-9 from the field while going against a variety of defenders, including Kirk Hinrich whom he often eluded in Game 1. The one previous time he struggled in a playoff game was when he was in foul trouble and went 1-for-11 in Game 5 of the 2007 Western Conference semifinals against Golden State. But Derek Fisher and others stepped up in a 13-point win that night.
Nobody stepped up Monday due to a combination of poor execution and a lack of adjustments to Chicago’s defense.
After an ugly performance evened the series, Williams promised to be better and a day later, interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo backed up his point guard.
“I think he’ll bounce back because he’s an excellent player,” Carlesimo said on a conference call. “He’s been on a great run. They did a good job of getting people to him an awful lot of the time and when he penetrated, they did a good job contesting his shots.
“He wasn’t able to finish at the rim effectively but a lot of it was that he took a couple of threes late too. It is what it is too and Deron, he missed shots, he had an off game [and] he’s got to play better. He’s going to be fine.”
Before Monday, the last time Williams was held to one field goal was a 1-for-12 showing on March 17, 2011 in an 83-74 loss to the Bulls at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Only three Bulls who appeared in the game will be in the series (Joakim Noah, Luol Deng and Taj Gibson). The rest of the Bulls included Derrick Rose, Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and current teammates Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson.
Of course, Williams did not quite have the talent around him that he has now. He had Brook Lopez but the Nets’ starting two guard that night was Anthony Morrow while Kris Humphries and Damion James were the starting forwards.
Only three Bulls who appeared in the game will be in the series (Joakim Noah and Luol Deng and Taj Gibson). The rest of the Bulls included Derrick Rose, Kurt Thomas, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and current teammates Keith Bogans and C.J. Watson.
That night Williams was hounded by Rose, but the next time he takes the court, he will face the same array of multiple defenders. It will be up to him to make those decisions and find those who may have better scoring opportunities if Williams has similar encounters with Chicago’s defense.
“I think he has a good sense of [calling plays], and I think it’s always a back-and-forth with us,” Carlesimo said. “In the timeouts [the coaches are] normally going to call something, and when we’re going in the flow and when we’re effective, we just let it go, and Deron makes a real high percentage of the calls.
“We’ll talk any time there’s a dead ball when it’s appropriate, but for the most part, he’s gonna make the calls. When it’s a night when we’re struggling, then it is more of a challenge, but I don’t think it’ll be any different [in Game 3] and I don’t think it’s an adjustment. We’ll watch the tape. We’ll talk to him about what we see. We’ve got two days to go, but he’s way above average in terms of his feel for what’s working, what’s not working, who needs to be more involved, who hasn’t had a shot in a while, who’s got a favorable matchup. Some point guards are very comfortable with doing that, and he’s way above average in terms of what he sees on the floor and getting us into the sets we need to be in.”
Chicago’s defense forced the Nets to take 21 3-pointers. The team took at least 20 in 53 games during the regular season. The Nets won 31 of those games and were 23-11 under Carlesimo when attempting at least 30 3-pointers. In games where they missed at least 15 3-pointers, the Nets are 15-19.
A high volume of 3-point attempts does not necessarily bother Carlesimo. Rather it is how they develop that is more of priority.
“It’s very important but at the same time if we’re moving ball, particularly getting it to the other side of the floor and guys have open shots and are making them, that’s more time and score situation,” Carlesimo said. “I think if we do move the ball and it’s appropriate and we’re getting it to the weak side and the looks are good.”
George wins Most Improved Player
Nobody on the Nets was expected to win this award so it wasn’t a surprise when Indiana forward Paul George was named the league’s Most Improved Player with 52 out of 120 possible first-place votes.
However, the voting did contain some Nets as Andray Blatche picked up one first-place vote as he played in all 82 games for the first time in his career, while Lopez picked up a third-place vote after his first All-Star season.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.