After going 4-0 against the Miami Heat in the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets find themselves down 0-2 to the two-time defending champs in their second-round playoff series. One of the biggest reasons why the Nets have been unable to keep up with the Heat is the poor play of Kevin Garnett. Garnett, a player brought in by Brooklyn to provide frontcourt scoring and solid post defense, has been unable to do either against Miami.
In the first two games of the series, Garnett has a plus/minus rating of minus 16. He has scored just four total points and is shooting 20 percent from the field. His inability to hit mid-range jumpers has clogged Brooklyn’s offense. Heat defenders realize they can sag off of Garnett and protect the lane, limiting the effectiveness of players like Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams.
Defensively, Garnett’s advanced age looks like it is catching up to him. His lack of foot speed is hurting the Nets when the Heat run pick-and-rolls. Chris Bosh, a player who Garnett has been able to slow down in the past, has also been able to take advantage of the Nets’ veteran. Several times throughout the series, Bosh has beaten Garnett off the dribble and gotten to the rim.
Garnett has played 18.5 minutes per game in the first two contests against the Heat. If he continues to struggle, head coach Jason Kidd should consider reducing his playing time. Kidd should think about playing Mirza Teletovic at center and going with a super small lineup. Teletovic hit six 3-pointers in Game 2 and was responsible for keeping the game close until the fourth quarter. His shooting ability will create more spacing for Brooklyn’s offense and put another dangerous scorer on the court that Miami will have to respect.
Additionally, Garnett is not providing any rim protection, so replacing him with a smaller player will not harm the Nets defensively.
At this point, the Nets need to find a spark to turn the series around. If Garnett cannot provide it, the Nets will have to adjust accordingly. While it may be difficult removing an NBA legend from the rotation, it is a move that will help the team. Nets fans better hope that Kidd has the intestinal fortitude to make the move before it is too late.