As the regular season dwindles down to its final few weeks and the playoffs creep closer, Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams has begun performing like the nearly $100 million player that the organization made him a few years back.
Last night was yet another example, as Williams poured in 28 points on 11-for-13 shooting from the field. He also tacked on four assists and three steals as he led the Nets to their ninth straight home victory with a smooth 108-95 win over the Phoenix Suns.
But as the ankles that have been infamously flimsy over the last couple of seasons continue to strengthen and allow Williams to progressively improve his play, the Nets must still keep a close eye on the former All-Star. Simultaneously, it is just as crucial to Brooklyn’s playoff run that Williams himself makes certain not to overexert himself over these final games.
The Nets need Williams at his best – or at least as close to that as possible – during the postseason as much as any other team still competing will heavily rely on its best playmaker. Without that, they stand no chance of making it out of the first round even if they’re seeded as high as third in the Eastern Conference.
Meaning that in these upcoming weeks, coach Jason Kidd should try to cut down on Williams’ playing time by a handful of minutes whenever possible in the way a baseball manager of a sure playoff team would regulate the pitch count of a starter in late September. Any setback, as minor as it could be, could be detrimental to the Nets’ playoff hopes.
Both parties need to avoid that, but must do so without hurting the team’s chances of winning games as well. It has the makings of a challenging balancing act, but not one that should be impossible to execute.
And it’ll be worth it come playoff-time.