In their Game 1 victory over the Bulls, the Nets went 8-for-10 on isolation plays against one of the best isolation defenses in the league, per mySynergySports. Most of those isolation baskets came early in the shot clock (i.e. the first 10 seconds, where the Nets, like nearly all teams, score better than at any other time during the shot clock) or by virtue of a Net making a difficult, contested shot.
Play #1: Deron Williams attacks Kirk Hinrich off the dribble early in the shot clock and before Chicago’s help defense is set.
Play #2: Joe Johnson gets a middle iso on Jimmy Butler. Butler mostly keeps him in front, but Johnson puts on a spin move and makes a tough runner over Butler and the lunging Taj Gibson in the lane.
Play #3: Andray Blatche makes a contested baseline jumper over Carlos Boozer.
Play #4: Williams gets a screen in delayed transition and draws Nate Robinson on a switch. Williams immediately attacks the lane for a basket.
Play #5: Brook Lopez gets the ball at the elbow with 7 seconds left on the shot clock. He puts it on the floor and makes a winding, spinning layup between three Chicago defenders.
Play #6: Williams runs time down at the end of the second quarter before driving right on Butler. The help defense is there to meet him before he can get in the lane, but he makes a running, hanging one-hander off the glass.
Play #7: Reggie Evans gets the ball at the free throw line with 10 seconds on the shot clock. No one flashes open, so Evans dribbles around for a while before unleashing a lefty hook shot over Boozer.
Play #8: Williams runs time down at the end of the third quarter before driving left on Robinson. The help defense doesn’t get there as quickly this time, but he misses the hanging, running one-hander off the glass.
Play #9*: The Nets run a designed clearout iso in the middle of the court for Johnson. He does a lot of fancy dribbling that goes nowhere, and eventually has to settle for a stepback jumper over Marco Belinelli that misses badly.
Play #10: Johnson gets a wing iso and makes a tough, contested three over Luol Deng.
The play I’m most interested in here is Play #9, because it typifies the kind of isolation you saw out of the Nets in Game 2, when they did not have nearly as much success. The Nets went just 2-for-15 with three turnovers on isolation plays in Game 2, with Johnson going an especially terrible 1-for-6 with a turnover.
Play #1: Johnson gets a middle iso on Butler with 11 seconds left on the shot clock. Butler hangs with him step for step for forces Johnson into a tough runner in the lane, which misses. Very similar to Play #2 from Game 1, only without the spin move to create extra separation.
Play #2: Johnson dribbles into another middle iso on Butler. This time he attacks with about 13 seconds on the shot clock. Butler stays with him step for step again, and Johnson hits a tough hanging runner in the lane.
Play #3: Johnson dribbles into a wing iso on Luol Deng. He takes a terrible stepback jumper early in the shot clock that goes in and out.
Play #4: Johnson catches at the free throw line for a middle iso on Butler with 12 seconds on the shot clock. He half-heartedly tries to back Butler down before taking a stepback fadeaway that clangs off the rim with 7 seconds on the clock.
Play #5: Johnson gets yet another middle iso on Butler and starts attacking with just 5 seconds on the shot clock. Hinrich digs down in help position and deflects the ball off Johnson’s leg and out of bounds for a turnover.
Play #6: Another middle iso for Johnson on Butler. He catches above the three point line with 7 seconds on the shot clock and starts attacking with 5 seconds left. He pulls up for a contested jumper in the lane, which misses off the back iron.
Play #7: Johnson catches the ball for a wing iso on Deng with 15 seconds on the shot clock. He holds for four seconds while the Nets try to free Deron Williams for a middle iso with a Brook Lopez down screen, but Hinrich disrupts the passing lane. Johnson jab steps a few times and dribbles out to the three point line with 8 seconds on the shot clock. He attacks the lane with 7 seconds on the clock and misses a runner over Deng and Boozer.
This is how it went for all the Nets in isolation on Monday night. Deron Williams was o-for-2 with a turnover. Andray Blatche was 1-for-4 with a turnover. No one else made a shot in isolation. Tom Thibodeau’s defense typically shuts down wing and baseline isolations by flooding the strong side with an extra help defender, but on a middle iso, there is no strong side. This was just a case of Johnson being bottled up by two great defenders in Butler and Deng.