Twenty-five games in, and the Brooklyn Nets are 17-8, first in the Eastern Conference. Nothing to worry about, right?
Yet upon closer examination, Brooklyn’s performance against above .500 teams is still troubling at just 7-7, with losses against the Miami Heat, the Golden State Warriors, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Phoenix Suns, and two against the Chicago Bulls.
Two performances, in particular, showcased how and where the Nets were falling short versus the elites: November 16 against Golden State, a 117-99 loss, and November 27 against Phoenix, also a 113-107 loss.
In this video, I highlighted the main areas of improvement for the Nets going forward against the top-tier squads in the association.
0:40 James Harden & Poor Spacing — James Harden has been woefully inconsistent this season, looking like a dramatically different player in wins and losses. To make matters worse, Brooklyn’s spacing, which regularly features multiple non-shooters, has eaten up Harden’s precious driving lanes.
3:52 Bigs Can’t Play — Brooklyn searched high and low for big man help in the offseason... just for none of them to perform well against the Nets’ steepest competition. Paul Millsap, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge were rendered ineffective against Phoenix and Golden State. However, one big man, in particular, showed signs of life at the end of the game against the Suns...
7:33 Slips & Hard Rolls — Brooklyn has taken great steps defensively and currently ranks 11th in defensive rating according to Cleaning the Glass, which filters out for garbage time. That said, certain actions tend to catch the Nets off-guard. Slipping screens and rolling hard to basket has been a source of trouble for the Nets this season, and the games against Golden State and Phoenix were no exception.