When I hear ‘bridge year', I think of a broken down, unkempt and essentially abandoned bridge that leads to an unknown place. You'd hope people are trying to fix this bridge.
But as of right now, while the Nets are in that "state of flux" and no changes have been announced (yet), we wonder if the place this ‘bridge' leads us to the same place in which we started at. That would be nowhere.
It's late December and to be quite frank, some of this was inevitable. This bad? Not necessarily. But as we're one-third of the way through the season and finally have a legitimate feel for this team, so many things on and off the court must be addressed.
Unfortunately, this past week epitomized what it's been like to watch the 2015-2016 Brooklyn Nets, for those who actually can.
Where we stand
The Nets are now 7-20 after losing all four of their games this week. It wasn't pleasant.
They lost the first game of the week on Brook Lopez's "Star Wars Bobblehead Night" by a final score of 105-82 to the Orlando Magic. They wedged in two solid efforts against the Heat & Pacers, with the loss against Miami by six and the loss to Indiana by seven.
With 27 games played, it marks what essentially would be the one-third mark for the 82-game NBA season. At 7-20, your Brooklyn Nets have lost five in a row and stand in 14th place in the Eastern Conference and 28th (third worst) in the NBA.
Oh and this doesn't exactly help the negotiations between YES-Comcast. Some may ask, is that a good or bad thing?
Game of the week
Ah. This must be a trick question. At least we got a Jedi-Brook Lopez bobblehead!
Seriously, though, the Nets-Heat game was probably the best game of the week. The Heat led for most of the game, but the Nets wouldn't go down without a fight.
Miami went up 10 late in the fourth quarter, but the Nets went on a little run of their own and found themselves down by three with a little over a minute remaining. But Dwyane Wade capped off his 28-point night with a turnaround dagger in 50 seconds remaining. The Miami veteran showed no signs of slowing down as he missed only four of his 17 shots attempted on the night.
Gotta tip your cap to D-Wade, but also shake your head at whatever defensive plan the Nets had for him.
Weak of the week
Where to begin? It had to be the 23-point loss to the Orlando Magic on "Star Wars Night". Although it was another desolated atmosphere at the Barclays Center, there was a certain level of spotlight on Brook Lopez. It's not everyday that you get a Star Wars bobblehead made of yourself. For Brook - and even Nets/Star Wars fans - that's big stuff during this so called, ‘bridge year'.
How many times will we tell the similar story about the tale of two halves? Yup, same one. The Nets and Magic played an ugly, but close first half and then the Magic came storming out of the gates with a 31-point third quarter and eventually went up 26 early in the fourth. Jarrett Jack described it as ‘embarrassing'.
And to make matters worse - on his big night -- Lopez finished with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.
Aside from the rocky start mentioned above, Lopez had a stellar week with an average of 21 points, 7.6 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot on 64 percent (27-of-42) shooting.
Brook continues to display his deep repertoire of tricks on the offensive end for a player of his size. He's dominating most of his matchups, so much to the point where opposing teams are double and triple teaming him. Brook has learned to pass out of the swarming defenses, but the Nets often fail to reward the big fella with the open looks he gives them.
Still, Brook has work to do on the defensive end of the ball. Team defense is key and the Nets definitely don't own that key, but Brook was worked on quite a few occasions this past week, namely Nikola Vucevic and Karl-Anthony Towns.
This is just getting redundant, but it's gotta be the $24.8 million man, Joe Johnson.
Joe has looked pretty bad all season long, but this past week might've been his worst. He averaged a hair under seven points per game on 26 percent (10-of-38) shooting in close to 31 minutes per game. His playing time has decreased from weeks past (rightfully so), but it still might not be enough.
And then, you can make the argument of, "well, who takes his spot?"
That's almost unanswerable, especially with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sidelined for the next eight weeks or so. Wayne Ellington has shown zero signs of being a starter or even a legitimate role player. Same goes for Markel Brown. Although at this point, it couldn't hurt to try and utilize Markel and try to develop him into some sort of specialized player. The guy is still young.
But for the man we once called ‘Joe Jesus,' it hasn't looked good for the worn-down swingman.
Maybe he'll be able to get a courtesy buyout from the Nets, who have no incentive to do so. https://t.co/tv3Lx88cHY— Mike Mazzeo (@MazzESPN) December 20, 2015
Highlight of the Week
There have been far too many miscommunications between the coaching staff and players this season. It happened for a third time this year, a second time in which the Nets players didn't know whether to foul or not during the final seconds of a close game.
The Nets trailed by five with 35 seconds left and Bojan Bogdanovic was caught defending the ball and looking at Hollins whether to foul or not. Jarrett Jack looked irate. Here's what Hollins said about it:
"I told them they needed to foul," Hollins said after the loss to the Heat. "I mean, c'mon. You [have] to foul. I got caught looking at something else, and when I looked over everybody [was] looking at me -- but that stuff happens."
In the locker room, we talked to the players and none of them knew that they were supposed to foul.
Third times a charm:
Earlier this season, in losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors, very similar miscues occurred. Against the Lakers, Young was called for a five-second violation and Hollins felt Young should have gotten the ball in instead of calling timeout.
Then, versus Golden State, as the Nets were on pace to defeating the undefeated Warriors, Hollins claimed he told his players to immediately foul with a three-point lead. They didn't and Andre Iguodala hit a game-tying three.
Would the Nets have won if Bogdanovic fouled? Probably not. But for there to be this many communication errors in such a short period of time just goes to show how detached the players/coaches really are.
As a coaching staff, how do you allow this to happen? Hollins went on to take the blame at practice the next day, but doesn't that just sweep things under the rug? And as players, at 7-18 (at the time), when do you put your foot down and take some sort of initiative? By that I mean, maybe a ‘players only' meeting or something along the lines of that. Somehow, some way get this ship together.
We heard so much about leadership in the off-season, but why haven't we seen much, if any, of it so far?