CLEVELAND — Between Jarrett Allen and the Cavaliers packing the paint, Nets coach Steve Nash had to try something different.
LaMarcus aldridge is that someone.
Aldridge finished the game with 21 points and 11 assists. Nash accompanied him for the first quarter, instead of Blake Griffin, to help the Nets win 117-112 on Monday night.
“I think JA gave us problems with his rim protection in the paint. We don’t have a ton of shooting. It allows him more to be in there,” Nash said. “I just thought we needed to change something in the second half, play with a little bit more pace.
“LA obviously was making shots and spacing the floor for us. Apart from that, the lineups were a bit smaller, with Paul and James Johnson. [Millsap] opportunities. Just tried to make an adjustment tonight to see if we could generate some energy and pace and turn the game.”
Allen — a former Net traded away in the James Harden deal — had six points and five boards in just 7 ½ first-quarter minutes, and 11 points and nine rebounds in a first half that saw the Nets trail by 11.
But Griffin — who has been mired in a shooting slump — didn’t get off the bench in the second half. Aldridge finished the half with 12 points and 8 rebounds and Allen only nine and five.
“It definitely caught me off guard,” Aldridge said. “It was fine. “I was doing well tonight. This made it logical to attempt to make the floor more accessible for Kevin and James. The paint was being packed so that we could take advantage of JA trying to block shots. It definitely made sense, but I was surprised, for sure.”
Would Nash be open to giving Aldridge his debut start this season? Maybe even Wednesday in Boston. This is especially important considering that teams used Aldridge’s bigs to drag him off and block the drives of James Harden and Kevin Durant.
“We’ll see. All of these are things we consider every day. That’s what coaches do. We’ll see, though,” Nash said. “Long season. Many things to take into consideration. Lots of things that are unforeseen in the road ahead, and sometimes you don’t want to overreact to situations, but everything’s up for debate and consideration.”
Nash admitted the Nets traded Allen not just to get Harden but because they weren’t going to be able to afford him. With the Cavs, he signed a $100m deal.
“We loved him and wish him a lot of success, and happy for him to get a contract. I mean, the reality is he was probably out; we couldn’t probably resign him anyways,” Nash said. “Looking at the marketplace, he probably would’ve gotten a lot of money. And it would’ve been a huge cap hit compared to some of the priorities. So that was part of the decision in being able to let something like that go.”