Thursday, April 27, 2006

From chirpy to chippy?

Predictably, you can start to feel a touch more hostility as the series goes to Game 3 tonight.

Jermaine O’Neal isn’t happy with the officiating (and was docked $15,000 by the league today). . . .Nets defend their defense against him. . . . Anthony Johnson draws the ‘Vince is soft’ card on Wednesday. . . . Nets defend their teammate today at the morning shootaround.

These, of course, are the games within the games, part and parcel of most playoff series once both teams get their feet wet. How it lends itself to this series now that the Pacers are back home is extremely interesting.

For one, Indiana is banking on O’Neal getting out of foul trouble on its home floor.

“He’s only averaging 30 minutes a game in the two games,” Rick Carlisle told us this morning. “That’s a problem we’ve got to resolve.”

The Nets are determined to play him the same way, obviously, which is to get in his kitchen down low and push him back off the block. For seven of the eight quarters, Jason Collins and Cliff Robinson have done the job. But they were all in New Jersey.

“I think he (O’Neal) is expecting to get some homecourt calls,” Richard Jefferson said.
“Every game is going to have its own story, its own subtitle. You can’t worry about the officials. One game they are going to call it tight. The first game we thought we had some questionable calls that went down. Second game, they thought they had some. If you get caught up in the officials, that is another thing that you worry about.”
The Pacers, again, will be O’Neal reliant. Peja Stojakovic is still a game-time decision, but will likely play with a sore right knee…Peja says he won’t be moving so quickly, not that we recall him being especially fleet of foot to begin with.

Stephen Jackson (sore right thumb) will play. Jamaal Tinsley (sore Achilles, tummy ache) will not.

XXX

AJ had quite a crowd around him today after saying of Carter in Game 2: “He was out there trying to play tough, which we all know he's not.”

AJ, who is a nice guy, backed off a touch today… But it was just interesting to see Johnson continue to be a focal point in this series, when he was one of the best backups to Jason Kidd they ever had – and let him get away.

So far, he’s the Pacers leading scorer (14.5 ppg) in the series.

“I’m trying to prove myself,” Johnson confessed. “A lot of people are always going to doubt me, especially playoff time. A lot of the experts talk about how we didn’t have a chance because of the Anthony Johnson-Jason Kidd matchup. And I don’t want to be a weak link. I definitely want to step up to the plate and answer the challenge of going against J-Kidd.”

Don’t look for this rankle Kidd. He loves AJ and speaks fondly of the “chip on his shoulder.”

XXX

Best answer to a good question game from Jacque Vaughn, who played great defense in Game 2, especially with some nasty full-court press on Tinsley and Johnson.

Why don’t the Nets ball pressure all the time?

“It’s a long season,” Vaughn said.

2 Comments:

Blogger Greg J said...

Hi Bob,
game 3 was much more intense and physical than the others. What do you think, were the Nets not execting this? Anthony Johnson has been superb, it's obvious now he's a force to be reckoned with.

I enjoy to watch the full court pressure. It causes unexpected plays and makes the game more interesting, besides forcing turnovers.

take care,
Greg J

1:23 AM  
Blogger Bob Considine said...

Hi Greg,

Thanks for responding again.

I actually thought Game 3 was intense, but only for the first half. Then the Nets folded defensively in the second half, despite Nenad's shove of Scot Pollard and an elbow to the nose VC may or may not have received.

Some of problems in Game 3 go back to their worst moments of the season - when they were letting their offensive issues (re: settling for jump shots) dictate what they do on the other end.

Other issues were what you might think...they focused a lot of attention on JO'N and he was too good. AJ is playing like a man on a mission.

Heading off to practice in a little bit, where we fully expect to hear how they're not panicking. But the fact of the matter is, if they lose Game 4 tomorrow, they should be.

Bob

7:04 AM  

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