The Brooklyn Nets had a plan for Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young and pulled it off to perfection.
“You saw we had different bodies on him,” head coach Jacque Vaughn told reporters in his postgame presser shared by the YES Network on YouTube. “Spencer [Dinwiddie] started on him which was different from the last time…And then we didn’t foul him as much to get him going, sometimes you get a player like that [and] he makes free throws, and then next thing you know he feels good about himself. I thought all of his shots were contested tonight with a heavy hand in front of him.”
Young finished the game with 10 points and six assists, going 3-for-12 from the floor and a frigid 0-for-5 from beyond the arc. It’s his worst performance since a 9-points, six-assist night in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 19. But even in that game, he was more efficient (26.7% FG, 1-for-4 3P) than he was against the Nets on Friday.
It was just the third time he’s scored 10 points or fewer points this season, all in March. Atlanta is 0-3 in those games. This was also the 10th time he has seen fewer than five free throw attempts – they are now 6-4 when that happens.
“I think that was a part of Spencer starting on him tonight,” Vaughn said. “Spencer…has the IQ to adjust from game to game and what’s needed – how the referee’s going to call things, what Trae can get away with, what he can get away with. So that was a big part of the way we started. So Spencer was extremely solid. And it’s some nuance to guarding him. Which way he likes to go, what moves he considers his go-to moves – so I think we were more locked in to what those look like. And then making him finish at the rim over length. So the combination of all those things, and Spencer taking the challenge, was good for us.”
Spencer Dinwiddie Growing Into Role
Dinwiddie scored nine points, finishing with fewer than 10 points for the sixth time in 22 appearances for the Nets. But he also logged double-digit assists eighth time in the last 11 games and for the ninth time with Brooklyn overall.
He told reporters after their win over the Houston Rockets on March 29 that he was finally “settling into” his role with the new-look squad.
“Understanding what we need in terms of getting in the paint, trying to get guys going all that stuff,” he said via the Nets’ YouTube channel. “It’s a process: We’re all learning each other, we’re all trying to get everything down pat. And, as being kind of the older guy you want to read the game. And if they’re hitting shots, it’s my job to pass the ball. And, if they’re not, I got to be a little more aggressive. Because at the end of the day the name of the game is to win.”
Nets Win Keeps Pace in Eastern Conference Play-In Race
This win was key for the Nets to keep themselves out of the Play-In Tournament. They are now a full two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Miami Heat and the Hawks at nine.
They have just five games left.
Two of those games are against playoff teams in the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers, the latter of whom will close out the Nets’ regular season. Another game is against a Utah Jazz team that has finally embraced its tanking reality but has a unique player in forward Lauri Markkanen.
Brooklyn’s other two games are against the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Even better, the tilt against Detroit is the only one that will come on the road as Brooklyn remains in striking distance of the five-seed currently occupied by New York.