The Nets are hovering around No. 20 this week, after a win (over the Cavaliers) and two losses (to the Knicks and Nuggets.) At 3-4, Brooklyn has the same record as Cleveland, but since the Nets beat the Cavs...
The Nets were riding high after beating Cleveland on Wednesday, but then they gave the Knicks their first win on Friday, allowed the Denver offense to finally get going on Sunday, and probably realized that beating the Cavs by only five points isn't that great of a win anyway. The losses to New York and Denver made it a league-high three defeats after leading by double-digits, with only Minnesota having a worse second-half defense. They're a plus-12 in the first quarter and a minus-37 thereafter, with their last two third quarters (minus-31) accounting for most of that. Both of their meetings against the Suns are in the next eight days.
The gutsy win over Cleveland on Wednesday had the feel of a franchise-turning moment, but the good vibes faded as the Nets laid an egg over the bridge at the Garden on Friday night. Still, the Nets are shooting the ball exceptionally well in the early going. Only Caris LeVert has posted a true shooting percentage below 54 percent among Nets regulars.
Brooklyn is going be feisty all season long. The Nets are fun to watch and ready to expose any team that's caught sleeping on them with their barrage of 3-pointers. Kenny Atkinson is an awesome coach and D'Angelo Russell is thriving in his new system. However, they're still the Nets so it's still hard to really consider them as a solid team.
Jeremy Lin is lost for the season due to a ruptured patella tendon, which will put the ball in the hands of D’Angelo Russell more often. So far, he has responded with 23 points and 5.5 assists per game, shooting 39.1 percent from three. After a win Sunday over the Hawks, the Nets were 2-1 — the first time they had been over .500 since 2014.
The good: Shooting 36.6 percent from the 3-point line, big improvement over last year (33.8).
The bad: Giving up 118.3 points per game, worst in the league.
What a weird week. They take down the Cavaliers at home, then get absolutely manhandled by the Knicks and Nuggets. This is a reminder that there will be growing pains with this team woven within the fun times it yields, and that th—hey...HEY. Trevor. OUT. OUT!
The loss to the Knicks was unexpected, sure. But a win against the Cavs without D’Angelo Russell was perhaps more so. And that latter game may tell us more about the Nets and what their identity is this season.
What teams are getting when they play the Nets is an opponent that will play hard and shoot a lot of 3s. Granted, that includes to non-threats from deep — Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson —in the rotation and teams will ignore both of them. But even so, the Nets play a motion-heavy, 3-point reliant style that can keep them in any game. And against the Cavs, that won them the game.