Just in case some of the Brooklyn Nets were feeling downtrodden sitting 0-2 in their first-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, Spencer Dinwiddie is available to regale them with his past experience.
It’s a history lesson that directly involves three of his teammates.
“We end up whooping [the Phoenix Suns] a**,” Dinwiddie told Erik Slater of Clutch Points on April 19. “That’s the plan: come back [home and] win. Of course.”
Per Slater, Dinwiddie made sure to say his message “ was for the Twins”.
Both Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson – dubbed “the twins” in their days together with the Suns – have been solid through two games, if not challenged by being higher up on the food chain in terms of the opposing defense’s preparations.
The duo has combined to average over 48 points per game but, whereas Johnson has been able to knock down nearly 53% of his triples, the extra attention has impacted Bridges.
A 37.6% career three-point shooter, he has connected on just 33% of his threes in the series.
Sixers’ Zone Wrecking Havoc of Nets’ Offense
It was particularly an issue in the second half of Game 2 when Bridges was the only Net to score in double-figures with 12 points. Dinwiddie scored nine of his 12 points after halftime but the Nets were slowed by the Sixers’ zone defense on the whole.
“I feel like last game, it definitely slowed them down,” Sixers’ guard De’Anthony Melton said, per Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia on April 19. “Everybody was out there flying around, stunting, getting back to shooters. They hit a couple of tough shots, but that’s going to happen. But our zone definitely changed the game for us. It allowed us to play with more pace, get rebounds, and get out in transition.”
Melton doesn’t have to guess, Bridges confirmed as much in his postgame availability.
“They just came out second half, went zone, kind of messed us up a little bit,” Bridges said via the YES Network. “They just came out, had a little momentum, and then ran with it from there.”
As for that second-round series from last season that Dinwiddie was referring to, his Dallas Mavericks won their two games at home before losing the swing game in Game 5 only to close out the Suns in Games 6 and 7 to earn a Western Conference Finals berth.
“Just come ready. We expect to come out and do everything we can to win the game,” Spencer Dinwiddie said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post on April 19. “We had our chances up in Philly. The higher seed held serve on their home floor, which is what they’re supposed to do, and we expect to win Game 3. That’s what we’re coming to do.”
Of course, the Mavericks could lean on Luka Doncic. This will take a collective effort.
Teams that fall down 0-2 in the current playoff format (2-2-1-1-1) are 32-410; just a 7.2% chance of moving on, per Land Of Basketball. No team has ever come back from the dreaded 3-0 deficit (0-147) adding to the significance of getting that collective effort in Game 3.
Nets Need Even More From Nic Claxton
“I said to Nic [Claxton] he has to use his gifts and athleticism from the tip — whether that’s even winning the tip and outrunning Joel [Embiid] and getting up the floor,” coach Jacque Vaughn said, per Lewis. “He should have multiple layups because he just outruns the defense. We played small [in Game 2], that was a piece of it, but we need Nic, for sure.”
Claxton — the league leader in field goal percentage — has been held to five points and then zero points over the first two contests of this series and saw his rebounding numbers dip in Game 2 thanks in no small part to seeing roughly 10 fewer minutes than he did in Game 1.
He has previously spoken out about the need for a more collaborative effort on the boards as one of just two true bigs on the Nets’ active roster.
“Sometimes it’s tough the way we’re scrambling defensively, we’re really just out of [position],” said Claxton, according to Lewis. “We’re just not in a good position to rebound, and they’ve got guys sitting in the dunker. So that’s going to be big. The difference on the glass can’t be as big.”
He also said that he is going to work with his teammates to be more involved offensively.
Dinwiddie – who averaged 10.9 assists over his last 15 appearances during the regular season but 6.5 through two playoff games – agreed with the latter point.
“Nic typically … offensively is a beneficiary of other actions, so definitely going to try to get him going. He’s a huge part of our defense as well. We want his confidence high,” Dinwiddie said. “We do want to show him a little bit of love and we understand we need him defensively to be the type of team you want to be.”