Nets prioritize pace for Game 3 vs. the 76ers, but ‘it’s not like we’re gonna be able to flip a switch’

After back-to-back middling performances in Games 1 and 2 of Brooklyn’s first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, both losses, starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie hit the film room.

His revelation?

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His shots are coming way too late in the shot clock.

Dinwiddie has struggled to generate buckets for a Nets team that desperately needs them. He has scored 26 points combined through Brooklyn’s two opening first-round games, but he’s taken 26 shots to get them. He shot one-of-five from downtown in the 96-84 Game 2 loss in Philly and is just two-of-eight from three-point range in the series.

That’s a 25% clip for Dinwiddie, who shot over 40% from three in a 76-game stint with the Dallas Mavericks but finished the regular season shooting just 29% from deep after the midseason trade back to the Nets.

Dinwiddie said he needs to both take better shots and convert on the difficult ones, too, because clean looks will be scarce in a playoff series against a championship contender.

“Most of the ones I’ve taken have been like late clock, sub-five seconds on the shot clock,” he said after practice at the HSS Training Facility Wednesday afternoon. “So obviously any of those are gonna be tougher shots and it’s on me to convert some of those and be able to save some of those plays.

“Shot quality for myself is a little bit poor just from the standpoint of half of them are like five seconds or less on the shot clock,” he continued. “Nobody in the league is pretty proficient at that.”

Dinwiddie said he is trying to walk the fine line between play-making for his teammates and creating shots for himself. He tip-toed that line to a tee to end the regular season, averaging 16 points and 10 assists per game from March 1 through the April 9 season finale.

It became clear in Game 2, however, as open Nets shooters failed to knock down shots that Brooklyn needs Dinwiddie to be more aggressive seeking his own shot. Players not named Cam Johnson, who shot 5-of-11 from downtown in Game 2, shot only 8-of-31 from three-point range.

“This team needs me to get in the paint and typically make plays passing-wise,” he said. “I think we’ve been at our best this season when I’ve been able to do that.”

The Nets, however, know their best offense is in transition — an area they haven’t quite been able to capitalize because of their inability to complete a defensive possession with a rebound. The Sixers outrebounded the Nets, 56-33, in Game 2. They have secured 27 offensive rebounds this series compared to Brooklyn’s nine, and are wiping the floor with the Nets in second-chance points.

Philly has won in that department by a whopping 39-3 margin, including a total shutout, 18-0, in Game 2.


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“I think the biggest part of that is you’ve got to come back, get the rebound, and then if multiple people get the rebound, then all those dudes can push it,” Jacque Vaughn said on Wednesday. “But we haven’t been getting the rebound, so the pace has been slow. You’re playing against a set defense. That’s the difference.”

Rebounding was a point of emphasis for the Nets’ film study session on Wednesday. Brooklyn held MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid to just 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting in Game 2, but he dominated on the glass with 19 rebounds. Tobias Harris added 12 more, and P.J. Tucker tallied eight, plus backup center Paul Reed grabbed three offensive rebounds off the bench in only 11 minutes.

“We’ve talked about it. We addressed it today. We named it, we put it in perspective. We reality-checked it. All of the above to understand that everyone has to come back and hit every single time,” Vaughn said.

If the Nets can find a way to secure rebounds, it will allow Dinwiddie to get out in transition, where he finds much of his offense as one of the league’s better guards getting downhill to the rim.

“You wanna attack early in transition. The best quality shots typically are early in the shot clock, just by the numbers and the points per possession. They tell us all the time,” he said. “Kicking it ahead a lot obviously, and then when it does come back, we just have to have better elephant recognition and get into our plays a little bit quicker. That’s one of the things that in this series so far we haven’t done great at, and that we kinda drilled in the practice today.”

Vaughn, however, pointed out the Nets weren’t a particularly good team in transition during the regular season, either.

“I just think you have to look at the profile of our team,” he said. “We were 22nd in transition, so it’s not like we played at an incredible pace throughout the course of the year. It’s not like we were a team that attacked the rim at a high quality and high clip throughout the course of the year, and especially in the playoffs, that slows down. It’s not like we’re gonna be able to flip a switch and that’s gonna change.”


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