Brooklyn Nets: The Return of Deron Williams?


Is the old Deron Williams back? Only time will tell.

During the Brooklyn Nets‘ 120-115 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 last night, fans were treated with point guard Deron Williams‘s heroics.

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Finishing up with 35 points and 7 assists, D-Will “turned back the clock” and played like the player they had acquired from the Utah Jazz a few years ago. After subpar performances in Games 1-3, fans thought Deron Williams was done. He had also gotten injured in Game 3, and until yesterday, fans did not know whether he would even start. However, Williams remained in the starting lineup and made his presence felt from the very beginning of the night.

He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to carry the Nets to an eventual overtime win, and showed the he could play well down the stretch. Even though he missed the potential game winner at the end of regulation, the Nets would not have even been in the game without his performance.

Included in his 35 points last night were a franchise playoff-record 7 three-pointers. The best one of them all was the desperation heave from 27 feet out with the shot clock running down. This three-pointer immediately swung the momentum their way and the crowd had erupted. In the final seconds, D-Will had the chance to win the game in regulation, but his step back shot with about 7 seconds left fell short. Had the Hawks scored on the ensuing possession to win the game, Williams would have been bombed with criticism of why he shot the ball instead of running down the clock. His strong play throughout the game would have been overlooked and probably even forgotten, had the Hawks won at the buzzer.

Criticism is nothing new to Williams since his arrival in Brooklyn. Hampered by injuries and poor play, Deron was subject to the dismay of fans. His uneventful postseason thus far only added insult to injury, and had called his role on the team into question. Just a couple weeks ago, former teammate Paul Pierce bashed D-Will, saying that he did not want to be great or play at an MVP-type level. Deron shrugged off the criticism, and was publicly supported by coach Lionel Hollins. Coming out strong Monday was the perfect way to respond to the harsh remarks, and managed to silence the critics, for at least one night.

He missed the potential game-tying shot in Game 2 of this series, and acknowledged that he needed to play better. With Jarrett Jack‘s outstanding Game 3 performance, fans would have understood if Williams lost his starting spot in favor of Jack. However, coach Hollins kept D-Will in the lineup and was rewarded with Deron’s best game of the entire season.

Williams contributed heavily to yesterday’s win, but the momentum must transfer over to Game 5. If the Nets have any chance of upsetting the Hawks and winning the series, Williams has to play close to the level that he did last night. Consistency is key for D-Will, so he must follow up yesterday with another strong game(s) to prove to everyone that he can return to his vintage form. No better time than now in the playoffs, when your team was given no chance against the top seeded Hawks.

Next: Long Awaited Playoff Breakout

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