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A big issue still unaddressed: Nets need to get more shots than their opponent

Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

When you shoot 44 percent overall and 53 percent from deep, you shouldn’t get blown out, particularly when you have two of the NBA’s biggest stars scoring 32 and 20 points — and your big off-season acquisition makes an historic debut by hitting all seven of his 3-point shots.

But the Nets did get blown out, 127-104. Putting aside a couple of one-off aspects of the game — the Bucks were celebrating Ring Night and the Nets were abysmal at the line (53.6 percent!) — the big issue was not getting up enough shots. That’s not one-off. It happened a lot last season. Specifically, as Brian Lewis reports Thursday, the Bucks put up 21 more shots, 105-to-84.

How does that happen? Well, the Nets got beat off the offensive boards, 13-5, and were outscored on turnovers, 22-2. Offensive failings both. An obviously frustrated Steve Nash spoke about how this is a recurring issue.

“We’ve talked about it. We talked about it the night before training camp, we talked about it throughout training camp. So the guys are aware of it,” Nash said. “That’s an Achilles’ heel for our team. We’ve got a long ways to go. … It’s a characteristic of our team that just needs constantly to be addressed and to combat that any way we can every night.”

But, as Lewis also reports, the message may not have sunk in.

“We haven’t really talked about getting more shots than opponents this entire preseason,” Harden said. “That was a conversation last year for sure, but this year we haven’t talked about it thus far. Now, after this game watching film we’re definitely going to talk about it.”

Harden explained how that talk could lead to improvement.

“It’s our rebounding, 50/50 balls. … We’ve just got to get the ball up. We got to get shots up, shots at the rim, because when we do, we’re a really good team. … We just didn’t get enough shots up, so we’ve got to be better. I felt like our 50/50 balls and rebounding the basketball can help that.”

It’s also turnovers. The Nets had 12 but again, got outscored 22-2 off TO’s. Is that a function of a lack of chemistry with the Nets having only six players left from last year’s last game? A short turnaround between seasons and a compressed training camp?

“We were climbing uphill the whole game,” added Kevin Durant. “We had good spurts, cut it to [five] a few times, but we couldn’t get over the hump because they had more possessions than us. They kept the ball in their hands, so it was a possession game for us.”

Can the Nets turn it around or will other teams, starting with Philadelphia Friday night, continue to take advantage of the shot shortfall?

“We’ve just got to. We could put more pressure on guys. This is little stuff: Getting back on defense. One hundred field goals, they were killing us on the boards early,” Kevin Durant said. “We’ve just got to put our heads down, get the 50/50 balls be a little bit more aggressive.”

There were other issues, like how the big-dominant line-up didn’t work that well. The offense looked clogged up. The athletic Bucks, as our Matt Brooks noted in his game recap film study, dominated.

“We took a look at big lineups,” Nash said. “We don’t want to overreact. Obviously, it wasn’t great tonight, but we just weren’t great. We have a lot of guys that are new to each other, trying to figure it out. This is going to be a process for us that we just have to stick to.”

Of course, there were positives. KD was KD after a slow start. Harden who was feeling his way in preseason finished two assists and two rebounds short of a triple-double and Patty Mills looked like the Patty Mills who drove Australia to its first Olympic medal, going 7-of-7 from deep and playing with great energy.

The pundits mostly predicted a slow start for Brooklyn. When you bring in so many new players — and are missing Kyrie Irving — that seemed like a solid projection. How quickly can things come together? That’s why they play the games.