Entering the postseason, there were plenty of question marks for the Brooklyn Nets. How would the team perform in their first playoffs together? Would Caris LeVert find his groove after that horrible injury early in the season? How do you make Jarrett Allen work against Joel Embiid?
The only thing that didn’t seem worth questioning was whether the league’s leading three-point shooter would do his part.
Well, he shot 19 percent from deep in five games.
Joe Harris pic.twitter.com/jWugGw5Piu
— SI Extra Mustard (@SI_ExtraMustard) April 20, 2019
Joe Harris finished the regular season shooting 47.4 percent from the perimeter, good for first by a whole 2 percent over Danny Green in second place. Not to mention, Joe Harris lit the Sixers up in four appearances against them this season, shooting 55 percent from three-point range on 4.5 attempts a game. There was no predicting the struggles Harris faced in Philly’s five-game stomp of the Nets.
In the Nets’ lone win in Game 1, Harris made three of his four three-point attempts. In Games 2 through 4, Harris was 0-12. It wasn’t until Game 5 where Harris got on the board again, making just one of his five attempts.
To make matters worse, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson refused to go away from Harris as he averaged 30 minutes a night during the series despite being an overwhelmingly negative asset. Joe Harris simply does not do enough on both ends of the court to warrant playing him through extreme slumps because their opponent is essentially given a power play.
What made Harris so crucial to the Nets during the regular season despite his poor 113 defensive rating was his very good 119 offensive rating tipping the scale back.
His offensive and defensive ratings in this series?
89 and 120, respectively. Needless to say, both of those numbers are both tragic.
He finished the series -79. Plus/minus can be a tricky stat and sometimes just useless due to lack of context, but there is no chance anyone can be a -79 by accident.
This is going into an article at @Liberty_Ballers, but the work done on defending Joe Harris cannot be overstated. This is based of off matchup weighted spatial interpolation of point per shot surfaces and then the corresponding actual shot locations. No free throws included. pic.twitter.com/SGNNJluo97
— Andrew Patton (@anpatt7) April 24, 2019
It’s tough to say what caused the rut. Philly’s defense was excellent in this series and definitely denied him the ball a lot, but there was much more than that. There were plenty of shots where he had time to tie his shoes and make a phone call before shooting but he just could not buy a bucket.
One possible explanation for the slump was fatigue finally setting in.
Joe Harris was the primary defender on J.J. Redick in this series and anyone who has watched Redick play knows that despite being in the league for 14 years, he still moves around the court like the Energizer bunny. Redick has been so successful in his tenure because his perpetual motion tires his defender out far more than it tires himself out. It’s possible that Joe Harris was not physically ready to chase for more than 30 minutes AND maintain his legs to knock down threes on the other end.
Or, it simply could have just been mental. All great shooters go through slumps and Joe Harris simply hopped into one at the worst possible time.
There is plenty of blame to go around the Nets’ locker room, with D’Angelo Russell having five more shot attempts than he had points, Jarrett Allen standing no chance against a one-legged Joel Embiid, and Jared Dudley lighting the fire under a team that entered the postseason lazy and unmotivated, but Harris deserves his fair share of criticism for the series he had. His shooting woes combined with the stubbornness of coach Atkinson to not take him out, put the nail in the coffin for the Nets in a series against a very tough opponent.