Nets enjoy share of R&R

Rippin' and runnin' more than words for top seed vs. Celtics in East finals

Pro Basketball

May 21, 2002

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Late NBA game: Last night's Game 2 of the Western Conference finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings ended too late to be included in this edition.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - In NBA slang, it's called rippin' and runnin'.

In layman's terms, it means grabbing a defensive rebound, turning quickly upcourt and trying to make something happen on the fast break.

Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets do it better than any body, and the Celtics must now find a way to stop a quicker and bigger opponent from rippin' and runnin' off to Boston with a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Nets were uncannily crisp in their 104-97 victory in Game 1, and they admitted yesterday that even they were surprised by how well they had dictated the style of play after going up against two previous playoff opponents - Indiana and Charlotte - whose primary defensive focus was to keep New Jersey from running.

"We want to run. We want to play like that. We want to get up and down." Boston's Antoine Walker said. "We prefer to play that way, but you can't play that way and let the other team score. That's what happened yesterday. They grew confident, and you have to take that away from them."

The Nets try to start their fast break off missed shots, and Boston's preferred method of offense - the long jump shot - feeds right into their hands.

Long jumpers tend to bounce hard off the rim and create long rebounds, and the Nets have the best rebounding point guard in the league in Kidd.

New Jersey out-rebounded Boston 49-38, with the starting backcourt of Kerry Kittles and Kidd grabbing the same number of rebounds - 20 - as Boston's starting frontline of Tony Battie, Walker and Paul Pierce.

"I think we thought we could do a good job on the boards, but looking at that number it was a pretty surprising stat." Nets center Todd MacCulloch said. "I would be surprised if it's that lopsided for the rest of the series."

The problem for the Celtics will be rebounding - especially on the offensive end - while still being able to get back on de fense fast enough to keep the Nets from running.

Former Boston coach Tom Heinsohn remarked Sunday that the Celtics were running back hard on defense but weren't picking up a man. New Jersey had 19 dunks and layups, several in transition as Kidd pushed the ball upcourt with a full head of steam.

One of the things that makes Kidd a special player is the way he ignites the fast break and pushes the ball upcourt, using his superior vision and passing skills to create easy opportunities for his teammates.

The Nets are stocked with players who can finish on the break, from the speedy Kittles to the hard-dunking Kenyon Martin to the enigmatic Keith Van Horn. New Jersey placed seven players in double figures in Game 1, and Martin was just one missed foul shot away from making it eight.

"Jason may be the only great passer on this team, but we do have a lot of good passers." MacCulloch said. "You never see anybody on this team concerned about their points. When that happens, it's hard to focus on stopping us because you don't know who it's going to be. It's just who is open in the offense."

The Nets controlled Game 1 for more than three quarters, but the Celtics took solace in the fact that they were within six points in the final minute despite being dominated.

'If something happens and we lose two, then I'll worry. I'm not worrying about it right now." guard Kenny Anderson said.

The Nets, meanwhile, believe their numerous offensive options - along with a focus on rebounding - will make the differ ence in this series, which resumes tonight night.

New Jersey has a distinct size advantage on the inside. Whereas the Celtics use the 6-foot-11 Battie at center and are without injured backup Vitaly Potapenko, the Nets have plenty of size with centers MacCulloch and Jason Collins and power forwards Martin and Aaron Williams.

"They"re not Charlotte." Martin said. "Charlotte goes to the glass every time, but [the Celtics] rely on the three-point shot, and there are long rebounds.

Boston attempted 29 three-pointers in Game 1 and scored just nine second-chance points off 10 offensive rebounds.

"We went into the series with the mindset that they"re going to shoot a lot of long jump shots. And with that comes long rebounds." Van Horn said. "So the rebounds aren't necessarily going to be won in the paint, it's going to be won by the people who hustle to those loose balls."

When the Nets weren't running their fast break to precision, they settled into a half-court offense heavy on movement, picks and backdoor plays, often getting a pass into the low post before the Celtics recovered.

"We didn't have our A game or B game and we still had a chance to win when they played their best game." Boston's Eric Williams said. "We"re in the Eastern Conference finals. You bring your C game, nobody is going to win."

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