There’s no big jump in the Nets power rankings this week — a place here and there — even after their two impressive wins this weekend. Power rankers took note of their close win at home over the winningest team in the NBA. Not so much, their easy triumph over the reeling crosstown rivals.
There were some nice comments about the Brooklyns about their resilience, their defense. Crawl higher, Nets!
The Nets suffered some more heartbreak last week, losing to the Cavs in the final seconds after coming back from 11 points down in the fourth quarter on Monday, and then blowing a 20-point, fourth-quarter lead to the Thunder on Wednesday. But they turned things around over the weekend, outlasting the Raptors in overtime on Friday and then winning a rest-disadvantage game in Manhattan on Saturday. They’ve played the most back-to-backs in the league and were 0-6 in the second game before the win over the Knicks. Their late-game defense against Toronto was a signal of overall progress on that end of the floor. They’ve allowed just 105.1 points per 100 possessions over their last seven games, down from 112.8 over their first seven without Caris LeVert.
No team has suffered more gut-wrenching, late-game losses this season than the Nets, which made the rousing overtime win on Friday over league-leading Toronto so satisfying. After a rough go of it the first six weeks of the season, Allen Crabbe is starting to hit shots. The Nets’ current starting lineup that includes Crabbe, D’Angelo Russell, Joe Harris, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Allen are a cool plus-16.8 per 100 possessions since first taking the floor as a unit on Thanksgiving week.
You never want to blow a 23-point lead at home. But if you do, it’s nice to follow it up with a win over the team with the best record in the league, as the Nets did last week. Losing to the Cavaliers and blowing that massive lead against the Thunder will stick with Brooklyn for a while. But so should the defense Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played on the last possession against the Raptors and the performance Spencer Dinwiddie had off the bench against the Knicks. Those bright spots help in a dark season, but without Caris LeVert healthy the losses will be more common even though the wins might be more in tune with this team’s future.
While a lot of teams now try to move away from offensive rebounding in order to set up their transition and half court defenses, the Brooklyn Nets have been one of the few teams continuing to fight on the offensive boards. The Nets grab nearly 30 percent of available offensive rebounds, clocking in at 29.9 percent for offensive rebounding rate. The majority of the offensive rebounding comes from Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis — two monsters on the boards. Brooklyn shoots a lot of 3-pointers, ranking as a top 6 team in 3-point attempt frequency. That leads to a lot of long rebounds for the Nets, which they do a good job of corralling. Even when they don’t, the Nets rate out extremely well in transition defense.
Brooklyn ranks second in transition defense, allowing just 97.6 points per 100 possessions. Only Milwaukee (90.4) does a better job of stopping transition scoring efficiency. Considering how hard the Nets hit the offensive boards, this is beyond impressive. They keep possessions alive and don’t sacrifice transition defense in the process. Kenny Atkinson continues to coach his ass off, as the Nets keep executing the basics really well. It sounds simple, but for a team still starved for top talent, it’s extremely important.
The Nets have won two in a row, including an impressive win over the Raptors. Guys: You own your draft pick this year! Tank! Get one more high pick, add a big free agent or two, and things are good. One of the biggest bright spots on the Nets’ horizon has been Jarrett Allen, who could become an elite rim protector.
The Nets need a break. That’s literal, by the way. They’re 0-5 on the second night of back-to-back sets, with the latest such defeat coming on Saturday against Washington.
Also, they’re dreadful in the clutch, despite spending an inordinate amount of time in those situations. Brooklyn is 4-12 in games that are within five points in the last five minutes, and its minus-23.4 net rating in those circumstances ranks 29th in the league.
So when D’Angelo Russell flung up an ill-advised three-point attempt with several seconds remaining on the shot clock as the Nets held a one-point lead in the waning moments over OKC on Wednesday, which gave the Thunder far more time then they should have had to attempt a game-winner, it felt right when Paul George daggered them with a three on the ensuing possession.
Brooklyn has lost eight in a row.
After losing eight straight in sometimes ugly fashion, Brooklyn bounced back win pick up two straight wins. Beating the Knicks isn’t terribly noteworthy but a home win over the Raptors turned some heads on both sides of the coin.