Just as the Nets improved with the play of Vince Carter, so did the Pacers when Jermaine O'Neal woke up. With Indiana's big man not in foul trouble and a force inside, the Nets lost game three 107-95 Thursday and trail the four-of-seven series two games to one. O'Neal proved too tough to handle on offense (he scored 37 points) and on defense (he held Nenad Krstic to just nine points). Without foul trouble to worry about, he emerged as the dominant force in game three.
Gothamist now wonders if the Nets will escape the first round. Each time they threw a punch in the fourth quarter, Indiana countered. Letting O'Neal beat them is one thing, but the Nets should not permit Anthony Johnson to drop 25 on them. Vince Carter's shooting returned to its cold state from game one. For the Nets to feel comfortable, they need a win on the road Saturday. Containing O'Neal is the first step to going back to New Jersey even.