The Nets were eliminated on Friday night by the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6, 111-87, as Atlanta won their first-round series four games to two.
The difference was the third quarter, when Atlanta started it on a 23-3 run, outscored the Nets 41-21 overall in the frame, and took a commanding 92-66 lead into the fourth.
Nets guard Joe Johnson said of what happened on Friday night, “We come in every game, our coaches do a great job of going over the game plan. The thing that’s been killing us is turnovers. Each and every game, no matter what game, and especially again tonight, at the start of the third quarter, we started off with three or four turnovers and they go on a 12-0 run, We never bounced back from that. If every game the coach is telling us to take care of the ball and we still turn it over, that’s on us as players. We’re not doing our job. We made it tough on ourselves this series. Give Atlanta a lot of credit. They’ve been the best team in the East all year, and they fought hard. I knew they wanted to come in here and really put us away, and they were able to do that in the third quarter.”
Johnson said of how far the Nets could have gone, “We definitely felt we had more. We had a good matchup. We never thought that we were going to get swept, even though we didn’t have any success versus Atlanta in the regular season. But during the playoffs, you gewt to game plan each and every player and know what they like and what they dislike. We were able to hone in on that the whole series and we held our own. We just let it get out of hand in the third quarter and never bounced back.”
On losing such an important game, Johnson said, “It was tough. We’ve been in this situation before. Last year, we had Game 6 on our home floor to force a Game 7, and same situation tonight. I thought we would come out with a little bit more intensity and take care of home court like we have all postseason, but we were just flat coming out in the second half and they just took off.”
Nets point guard Deron Williams said of playing poorly in the most important game, “They just came out with an agenda. That first quarter, they came out strong, really all series first quarters have hurt us, and then again in the third, they just came out. We turned the ball over, they capitalized on those and I think (Kyle) Korver hit three threes. DeMarre Carroll hit a three and then got a three-point play off my turnover. (Paul) Millsap hit a couple threes, and you look up and it was 20. It just happened so quick.”
On the third quarter, Williams said, “We’ve talked about it. You can’t get down to a team like this and fight an uphill battle.Tonight was evidence of that. We got down early and were able to come back a little bit, get it to six at half. They just exploded in the third quarter.”
On the difference in the series, Williams said, “They’re a better team than us right now. They’ve been together. They’ve figured out how to play consistently the same way. I think that’s what they’re trying to do. We had moments where we played really well together and we have other moments where we just try to do it on our own, and we’re not very successful when we do that, and tonight was evidence of that.”
Williams said of continuity, “I don’t think Lionel (Hollins) is going anywhere. That’s definitely continuity. You never know what’s going to happen in the offseason. It’s good to know you’re going to have the same coach, and if we keep most of our guys and we’ll have something to build on for once. We’ve had the same core, but semi-been healthy and played together under the same system. Hopefully, we ca build on things.”
Williams said of fighting to get into the playoffs, “A couple weeks, a month ago, it looked like we were out of it, but we hung in there, we fough. We clawed our way into the playoffs with a little bit of help as well. It definitely says a lot about us. We didn’t hang our head. We kept fighting. We wanted to make the playoffs, we did. I thought we put up a great effort against this team, the best in the East.”
Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic said of the feeling after a loss like tonight, “I can’t believe that5 the season is done for us. I don’t know what to sayabout the game, other than we allowed too many fancy rebounds (never heard of them referred to like that before), many fast breaks. I mean, there’s not much to say, they were better today. We needed better energy and that’s it.”
Bogdanovic on if the Nets were surprised how fast this got out of hand, “It surprised us too, they start to score on their shots in the first quarter and we couldn’t handle them. After that, it was tough to come back in the game.”