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3 Takeaways from Brooklyn Nets heartless loss to New York Knicks

It was bad, really bad. a crime! So here’s the forensics.

In-Season Tournament - Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Coming back to the Barclays Center after a Western Conference road trip, the Brooklyn Nets weren’t able to find that tranquil, relaxing feeling you get when you return home after a long vacation or the relief that comes with end of a business trip. The New York Knicks were at their front door waiting for them and the Manhattanites proceeded to slap them in the face with a 121-102 loss.

A first quarter devoid of any offense sunk the Nets early in this one, as Brooklyn didn’t break 15 points until there were under three minutes left in the opening frame. The Knicks also out-hustled Nets on the glass and the hardwood.

Brooklyn made missing wide open looks an unfortunate habit as well. Whether you’re playing in an NBA game or hiding from your family this holiday weekend by playing H-O-R-S-E with your cousins in the driveway, that’s a key ingredient in any loss.

While the Nets still find themselves slotted as a play-in team, it feels like there’s nowhere to go but up given their sudden fall-off following that thrilling victory vs Phoenix. As we all sit in pity this Thursday morning, here’s a few things to takeaway.

Transition Defense is a Serious Problem

Brooklyn’s revolving door defense against the Jazz felt like a byproduct of an extensive road trip. As upsetting as it was to see the Nets let Utah barrel up and down the court for easy buckets, you could chalk it up to the team simply being too tired. Not a valid excuse, but one that makes sense all the same.

However, that alibi wasn’t available last night for Brooklyn last night. They played at home, with a day off to rest, and still let the Knicks run circles around them. New York finished with 21 fast break points, looking a step ahead of Brooklyn literally and figuratively all night long. That also makes it the first time all year the Nets have allowed 20+ points on the break in consecutive games.

Brooklyn’s woeful shooting, which I’ll get into later, largely contributed to this issue. The Nets finished with 11 turnovers, but much of New York’s transition opportunities came after Brooklyn misses where they secured the rebound and got down the court fast.

To solve this issue, I propose this radical idea: the Brooklyn Nets should hit more shots. Bold and brave, right? But in all seriousness, whether team’s are getting transition points off turnovers or easy stops, hustle is the only thing that counters a fast break onslaught.

Brooklyn has the personnel with versatile wings and perhaps the speediest center in the league to accomplish that. If they don’t show some fortitude going forward, expect trouble for the Nets in their upcoming games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and even the Washington Wizards, who both rank in the top-10 for points per game on the break.

Too Much Analytics?

It’s often difficult for me to find someone who appreciates interesting stats in sports more than myself. While I also believe the “eye test” has an important place in this game, I saw Moneyball when I was in middle school, and have been fascinated with the idea of “getting on base” in hoops ever since.

Having said that, I think the Nets need to wind things back on that front with their shot selection. A triple remains the best shot in basketball. All it takes is a first grade education to understand that. But the fact of the matter is, the Nets aren’t hitting anything right now.

Brooklyn missed a horrendous amount of open looks last night. While their hot shooting from earlier this year still has them as the league’s second best team in 3-point percentage, they rank in the bottom-10 for that metric in their past five games.

Brooklyn’s 3-point shooting essentially won them games earlier this year. I’m not going to discount that and say they need to move away from the arc, but perhaps take their foot off the gas just an inch.

It seems like every other game, Mikal Bridges starts out slow from three, then hits a few midrange shots, and by the fourth quarter, we’re getting his 3-point celebration on repeat. Now, we didn’t get any of that last night, but given Brooklyn’s overall offensive woes, I’d like to see him and the Nets target higher percentage shots earlier in games and go from there.

Wide open three? Still take it — every single time. But if Nic Claxton is open in the post or you see a smaller defender switched onto you, look to find that easier shot instead of swinging the rock around the key for someone to end up pulling it in the face of a defender. The Nets just had their lowest field goal percentage in a game all year. There’s not much else you can do other than hunt for shots at the cylinder after a game like that.

It’s Time to Look in the Mirror

The Brooklyn Nets lost in an effortless battle to the lottery-bound Utah Jazz three days ago. Somehow, they managed to put up an even more embarrassing effort at home vs Knicks. Sprinkle on top of that another Ben Simmons “update,” where it was revealed that their $37 Million Man (soon to be $40 Million) won’t be re-evaluated for another two weeks, and I think it’s fair to call this the worst 72 hours in the team’s current era (if the current era is said to have begun following the 72 hours where they traded KD and Kyrie earlier this year.)

The Nets look like a high speed car wreck that inertia just won’t slow down. They’ve lost four in a row, the longest active losing streak in the league aside from the Detroit Pistons, and dwell in the Eastern Conference’s basement with a 13-14 record. And oh yeah, they play the Pistons twice next week.

I’ve maintained the ideology that it makes zero sense for Brooklyn to “tank.” They do not have control over their draft picks for some time, rendering the strategy counterproductive.

However, weighing the future over the present in some regard has to be considered with trade season on the horizon. It’s a difficult conversation that a large percentage of the fanbase has been running from ever since they dealt Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, the on-court product right now is making it impossible to avoid.

Before the die hards tar and feather me, I think major rebuild moves, T28 tank moves, those the team should refrain from making. Much to the dismay of all the Twitter GMs from Chicago, Toronto, Phoenix, and over in Manhattan, the Nets should not trade Mikal Bridges for a bag of peanuts or the rights to buy peanuts in 2025 onward.

Players able to contribute to the team’s long term vision like Bridges, Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, their rookies of course, and Nic Claxton if the team frees up some cap space should remain off the table.

However, players on expiring deals and getting up there in age like Spencer Dinwiddie make sense to shop around if the losses start to pile. Even as the team’s most consistent positives this year, Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith also fall into that boat.

Breaking up this unit will not make anyone happy, but how valuable are “vibes” when you’re getting blown out at home and losing to teams who are already looking toward the draft? Again, I’m not calling for a fire sale here, but barring a major upswing in the next few weeks, Brooklyn will have no choice but to start focusing on the long term rather than hedging between that and competing now. It’s time for them to look in the mirror at the very least.