The Brooklyn Nets came into the week staring up at the rest of the Eastern Conference, looking for ways to dig themselves out of the already large hole that they're stuck in.
It sounded bad, it looked bad at times, but for a team with such a poor record -- it really hasn't been a fair representation on how close they've been in games.
But as we wrote following that week, ‘almost' only counts in horseshoes, not in basketball. However, with better play and somewhat of a lighter schedule, the Nets turned ‘almost' into two solid victories against two playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
In the words of John Schuhmann in the latest power rankings:
"The Nets haven't been able to get consistent stops, but they've looked like a decent team more often than not over the last two weeks and have played one of the league's toughest schedules (which isn't getting any easier this week). "
Where we stand
The Nets finished the week with a 2-2 record, starting and finishing the week off on a good note against the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics. They lost a winnable game in Charlotte, and then got blown out in Boston (read below).
The Nets are now 3-11 and stand in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and second-to-last in the Eastern Conference, only ahead of the 0-15 76ers and four and a half games worse than the Porzingis-led Knicks. It's still early, but it's only fair to give credit where credit is due. The Knicks have looked solid thus far and with the Nets struggling mightily, it's only added more salt into the wounds of Nets fans.
Key words: It's still early.
Game of the week
This one is up for debate and I do believe the victory over Boston was a great bounce-back win for the guys in black and white, but it was also a game where the Nets led by 22 and almost let it slip away in the second half.
Key word: Almost.
The Nets started the week on a high note, holding the Teague-less Hawks to just 88 points and forced 20 turnovers against one of the East's elite.
Five Nets players finished in double figures with a big 14-point night coming from Shane Larkin, (who by the way has played phenomenal in backing up Jarrett Jack). Just don't tell Phil Jackson that.
The Nets were caught in a tie game with 33 seconds remaining, Hawks possession with a chance to go two-for-one. They had no place winning this game, especially this year's Nets -- who have especially struggled to close out games.
But following a huge defensive play from Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young raced down the court with time ticking down to the final seconds. Instead of calling a timeout, Hollins let Thad run in transition and it paid off. Young got fouled hard on the play and sunk both of the free throws with a second remaining. His heroics continued on the defensive end as he deflected Atlanta's inbounds pass as time expired.
Unfortunately the Nets' first home win of the season came in front of a Barclay's record-low attendance of 12,241. Where Brooklyn at?
Weak of the week
The perfect storm sort of all came together in Boston on Friday night. The Nets had just fallen to 2-10 on the season and the Boston Celtics were ready to ravage the Nets in front of their home crowd. They weren't shy to talk about the Nets picks, either.
The game was over in the first half after the Nets allowed 43 points in the second quarter with the deficit mounting in the 30's at certain points. It got ugly real fast.
The Celtics and their fans kicked the Nets while they were down by chanting: "Thank you Brooklyn!" and "Brooklyn's draft picks!"
The Nets didn't forget that, though, and they beat them 111-101 in the second game of a back-to-back. "We got embarrassed in Boston, no doubt about that," Joe Johnson said. "We wanted to come home and protect our house."
The THADDIATOR has been unleashed. He's been the definition of a true warrior for the Nets thus far, giving it his all night in and night out and improving as leader in the process as well.
Thad's phenomenal week was bound to happen after a big West coast trip where he averaged 18 points on 58 percent shooting. He ended the trip with a 26-point effort against the Warriors, a game in which Draymond Green admitted to Sarah Kustok, "Thaddeus Young was killing me in the first half."
It carried right over into the new week. He essentially won the Nets the game with his aggressive plays on the final offensive AND defensive stands against the Hawks. He averaged 17 points, 10 rebounds and 2.3 steals in the four games last week.
With the emergence of Thad Young, along with Brook Lopez, the two have proven to be one of the dynamic frontcourt duos in the NBA.
Bojan's inconsistency has plagued him throughout his entire career dating back to his Europe days. He scored 22 and then 15 on the West coast trip, but after the Golden State game, it was all downhill for Bogie.
He averaged just four points on 22 percent shooting this past week. His confidence may have been poisoned when he played the Warriors and finished with two points in 35 minutes. After that, he put home zero points against Atlanta and then two against Charlotte.
Following his zero-point performance vs. Atlanta, Bogdanovic didn't play more than 20 minutes for the rest of the week. In order for him to get his rhythm/confidence/consistency back, he'll need the players and Coach Hollins' trust out there.
Highlight of the Week
The last thing this 3-11 Nets team needs is drama off the court. So in the nicest way possible, it would probably be best if fathers stayed out of Brooklyn's business.
Vasily Karasev, father of Sergey and former coach/player in Russia certainly had his fair share of words for the Nets and Lionel Hollins, who he says are in ‘total disarray' and that his son is ‘discussing trade scenarios' out of Brooklyn. His son played four minutes prior to his rant, but then played 24 minutes in the blowout loss to Boston.
This entire display wasn't exactly a great look for the Nets or the Karasev's.