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Brooklyn offense moving up as defense holds steady

Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

For those who are part of the glass half full faction of Nets fandom, Laura Albanese of Newsday had some affirmation Monday. The Nets offense, which had been struggling while adjusting to the lack of Kyrie Irving, is back.

Despite the questions surrounding Kyrie Irving’s continued absence, the Nets’ offense has found a way to improve in recent weeks, with a second-best 112.2 offensive rating in their last 14 games (they’ve won 12). Despite Saturday’s missteps, they have looked better.

In fact, the Nets have moved into the top half of the NBA’s offenses for the season, jumping to 109.0, the 12th spot for the season. Meanwhile, Brooklyn has held steady on defense at 105.0 for seventh best in the league.

The Nets set an NBA record for offensive efficiency last season with a rating of 117.3, a number they’re unlikely to match without Irving’s return or some other big change. On the other hand, Brooklyn’s defense was woeful in 2020-21, finishing 22nd for the season at 113.1. (The team’s net rating has remained basically the same, 4.2 last season, compared to 4.0 last season.)

“I think time together,” Steve Nash said when asked why the improvement. They’ve had time “to analyze who we are, what this group is capable of together, what’s the pathway for this group to be efficient and effective offensively.

“I think the nuts and bolts of that are just playing earlier — getting organized, getting the ball down the floor, getting into actions quicker, getting to the second side quicker. [It’s] different things that can help us with this current roster not playing against a locked defense and making things difficult.”

In fact, the Nets offense for the season is now top 10 in net rating (6th); percent of field goals on assists (4th); field goal percentage (4th); effective shooting percentage (4th); true shooting percentage (3rd); 3-point shooting percentage (2nd); 2-point shooting percentage (9th) and free throw percentage (7th).