It could be a historic night Wednesday for the Brooklyn Nets. As long as no one steps off a curb or catches one of the various maladies circulating about the city (or one of four players participating in the G League Showcase doesn’t get hurt in Las Vegas,) the Nets will have a clean injury report when they face the Warriors at Barclays Center.
There have been other times in the three plus years since the Clean Sweep where it looked like everyone would be healthy only to have a cloud darken the official team Status Report. The last question mark (so far) was removed Tuesday morning when Jacque Vaughn announced that Patty Mills, who’s had tough time with a non-COVID illness, was cleared to face the defending NBA champs.
“Yes, Patty’s good to go,” Vaughn said. “Get that bug out him a little bit, so it’s good to see him healthy back on the floor and back at practice.”
The Nets are indeed in a good place and not just health wise. They are on a six game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 11, making them the hottest team in the NBA. Kevin Durant is making a legitimate case for MVP and Kyrie Irving is on a roll. Nic Claxton and Yuta Watanabe are justifying fans’ faith in them. Maybe Ben Simmons needs some time and yes, the Nets still have a losing record against winning teams but hey, after the summer of anxiety and fall fall-out, it’s hard to imagine things being better.
At Tuesday’s practice, there were good vibes everywhere...
More than the wins, the Nets seem to be a happy bunch, led by Vaughn. They will need to be. They play the defending champs (Golden State,) the 2021 champs (Milwaukee) and a very ambitious EC competitor (Cleveland) in the next week. Do they think they are ready?
“Oh absolutely. The focus gotta tighten up when you play better teams,” T.J. Warren said. “I mean, you can’t look at someone’s record and just assume it’s gonna be an easy win. Playing for this team, the other team is gonna get up to play against us. It just is what it is. We’ve gotta be prepared for every team’s best shot.”
“I mean, each game I just feel like we’re building and creating an identity for each other, especially on the defensive end,” Royce O’Neale agreed. “Our defense is going to keep up in those games and our offense is always going to be there as long as we play the right way.”
Preparing for Golden State will be a bit tricky. Steph Curry is out with a shoulder injury and the Nets game will be the second half of a New York state-of-mind back-to-back. The Warriors play the Knicks at the Garden Tuesday.
“Answer is I think that’s where you have to turn it to it being about us as much as you can just because they [Warriors] played tonight, not knowing who they gonna play. How the back-to-backs is gonna be? So we’re going to worry about us in that part of it and we’ll take a look after the game,” said Vaughn looking ahead to the Warriors. “I think you approach it as we’re back home. We got two [wins] when we were away. Let’s end the year in a positive direction and get this one tomorrow.”
Still, knowing you’re going to have all of your players (knock hardwood) has got to be a positive ... as well as historic.
- Big Test: How Nets are approaching a strenuous stretch ahead - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrates