NEW YORK — One of the Game 3 clips the Brooklyn Nets watched on Friday was a defensive collapse that happened at around the 9-minute, 30-second mark of the third quarter on Thursday.
The Nets were trailing by just five points. Jimmy Butler brings the ball up the right side of the floor passing JJ Redick and his man Joe Harris on the outside. Butler pulls his own man, DeMarre Carroll, down to the baseline and to the other side of the court where Carroll hits a Ben Simmons screen. Butler continues to wrap his way in a circle until he is near the middle of the paint. By that point, the Nets defense is a little out of sorts. No one is really bodying up against anyone, and their main focus is Butler, who is in a threatening spot on the court.
As Harris’ head is turned to look at where Butler is, Redick, who had stayed stationary during Butler’s wrap around the court, darts to the corner. Harris overcorrects in trying to close out, but by then Redick had the upper hand. Butler passes to Redick, who lets Harris fly by. Redick side steps and drains the corner three.
That’s the moment that head coach Kenny Atkinson believes the Nets lost the game.
“With JJ, we fell asleep on one play, one play we relaxed,” he said. “We’d had him contained, I though we’d done a pretty good job, then the third quarter comes. It wasn’t even a play for him. It was kind of a broken play and we just relaxed. He hit a corner three, and it’s almost like the floodgates opened.”
Over the next minute and a half, Redick hit two more threes and then hit free throws with just under three minutes left in the period for the Sixers to take an 18-point lead.
That wasn’t the only Redick clip the Nets watched on Friday. They watched somewhere between five and seven clips of the Sixers sharpshooter because they see him as the key to the Sixers being able to break open. The Nets know the Sixers have multiple scoring weapons but they feel like keeping Redick contained is absolutely necessary.
“They really do a good job of looking for him, and at the most unusual angles," Atkinson said. "He’s a master at finding an open space. We’re a little shellshocked right now after yesterday’s defensive performance. We’ve got to do better.”
That could mean that Brooklyn will look to put a different defender on Redick rather than Harris, who is the Nets best three-point shooter. Spencer Dinwiddie has also been an option for guarding Redick and there might be more of a mix as the Nets try to limit Redick’s touches.
The task of guarding Redick is not an easy one. With the amount that he moves without the ball and is fighting through screens, it would be a tall order for anyone and the Nets need for Harris to stay fresh so he can still have his legs under him on the offensive end.
“We’re taxing Joe putting him on JJ; we have to look at that,” Atkinson said. “If there’s other things we can do, other options, I think that’s part of it.”
The fear for the Nets is that with Redick in a rhythm and the attention he demands, it frees up more space and opportunity for other players to score. Then the Sixers get Tobias Harris going and they can’t stop the bleeding.
Before Game 3, the Nets were OK with their adjustments and game plan. They just felt like they needed to execute better. But heading into Game 4 on Saturday, Atkinson said it’s back to the drawing board and that all lineups, rotations, and moves were up for discussion.
Rebounding remains a focal point for the Nets who have had trouble against the Sixers, and they were dealt a blow that will definitely impact them on the boards. Ed Davis, the Nets’ reserve center, tweaked his right ankle and will not play in Game 4.