It’s easy to overreact after Brooklyn’s first loss of the season. After all, the script sounded awfully familiar as the Nets lost their first tight game down the stretch. It was the theme of last season.
They were also missing five players... another theme of last season.
But there were other things too.
The Nets opened up with a 12-point lead late in the first quarter. At that point they had just two turnovers with the ball moving in all the right directions. Then, they started coughing the ball over and over again, and Detroit made them pay. They finished with 17 turnovers on the night, two more than the 15.2 they averaged last year — good for sixth worst in the NBA.
They were dominated inside the paint by Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin with the duo combining for 50 points and 28 rebounds. The Nets didn’t make necessary adjustments like giving others a chance to somewhat stop the bleeding when the Pistons started taking over.
Somebody like Kenneth Faried might have given the Nets some energy and physicality, especially inside the paint. It also would’ve been a good time to experiment Ed Davis and Jarrett Allen in the front-court. Davis played less than 20 minutes and finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Jared Dudley played 36 minutes and scored one point. It’s understood that Dudley is in there to help spread the floor and brings opposing bigs out to the perimeter, but the Nets hit just five three-pointers on 27 attempts. Allen led the team with two!
Adjustments need to be made as the game goes on. Analytics are important but there also has to be a feel for the game flow. In this instance, the momentum started flowing in Detroit’s favor when they exposed this issue.
The other issue surrounded D’Angelo Russell. He was having a pretty quiet game with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting before Kenny Atkinson subbed him out midway through the third. He never saw the floor again as Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert took over for Brooklyn.
Call it what you’d like. This time Atkinson went with the flow of the game by trusting the hot hand, but Russell is one of the most talented players on the team and have helped score a couple big buckets late in the game. In Atkinson’s defense, Dinwiddie and LeVert single-handedly brought the Nets back into this game late in the third quarter.
Regardless, Russell needs to be a leader and good leaders always make sacrifices for the team. Whether you agree with Atkinson’s decision to bench him or not, it’s never a good sign to see one of the team’s star players sitting the final 18 minutes in the first game of the season.
We can talk about this team’s failure to close out games all we want, but they probably wouldn’t be in these situations if they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot. This was only the first game, but it felt like a case of Déjà vu.
That’s because it was.
In any case, they’re a young team dealing with several injuries. Furthermore, reactions after one game shouldn’t be taken too serious. It’s.one.game. It’s just easy to understand frustration around Nets’ nation after a loss that was filled with so many other positives.
They’ll have a chance to redeem themselves against the 1-0 Knicks. They better hope folks don’t feel any Déjà vu on Friday night, because the Knicks handed them a 4-0 sweep last season.