by Micah Hart
As everyone knows by now, the compressed NBA schedule will force every team to play three games in three nights at least one this season (42 times in total). With only 66 games to stake a claim to a playoff spot or seed, how teams perform during these killer slates could have a large impact on how their seasons turn out.
With that in mind, we’re going to keep track of each of the 42 three-plays to see which teams take advantage and which teams fall apart. Up next, the New Jersey Nets, who played three straight from Feb. 18-20.
This hasn’t been the best season for the Nets. In a season full of injuries, they’ve been perhaps the most afflicted, suiting up the minimum eight healthy bodies for several games. They put up only 2 points in their first three for all challenge, and that is mainly because they got to play one of the only teams worse than they are. Playing this threeplay would be just leading lambs to the slaughter, right?
Game 1: Nets 97, Bulls 85 - Say what? Yeah that’s right. The Nets, behind 29 points from Deron Williams and a huge 24 and 18 rebounds from the guy you love to hate, Kris Humphries, came into the United Center and put it on the Bulls, jumping out to a 34-19 lead after one and never looking back. The Bulls were without Derrick Rose, but still — they’d only lost one home game all season before this spanking. Didn’t see this one coming. 3 points (1 for win, 1 for road, 1 for +10 margin)
Game 2: Bucks 92, Nets 85 - Naturally, after the road win in Chicago, the Nets returned to New Jersey and promptly lost to the Bucks, despite the season debut for center Brook Lopez (nine points and two rebounds in 12 minutes) Game ball goes to Bucks F Ersan Ilyasova, who had perhaps the most surprising stat line of the season with 29 points and 25 rebounds — and fouled out as well! -1 point
Game 3: Nets 100, Knicks 92 - Oh sure, the Nets go right into Madison Square Garden, overcome Linsanity and the return of Carmelo Anthony to drop the Knicks, who had only won eight of their last nine coming in. Makes perfect sense. I gotta say, people were dogging on D-Will for getting an All-Star nod, but let’s not forget how freakin’ talented this dude is. A career-high eight 3-pointers and a season-best 38 points stole the show in this one. 6 points (5 for win, 1 for road)
No question about it, this is the surprise result of the season in the three for all. 8 points for the Nets, impressive regardless but especially so considering who they beat. Tip o’ the cap.
Up next: The New Orleans Hornets play three straight Feb. 20-22.
Three for all Top Ten:
— Miami Heat (15 points)
— Chicago Bulls (13 points)
— OKC Thunder (12 points)
— New Jersey Nets II (8 points)
— Atlanta Hawks (8 points)
— Houston Rockets (7 points)
— Portland Trail Blazers (6 points)
— L.A. Clippers (6 points)
— Philadelphia 76ers (6 points)
— Denver Nuggets I (6 points)