This week the Brooklyn Nets played four games and went 3-1 in those games.
The only loss came against the Cleveland Cavaliers,113-125, in which Kevin Durant sat out for rest.
The loss against the Cavaliers has been the only game that James Harden and Kyrie Irving have played together without Durant in Hardens short time with the Nets. Still, it was interesting to see how the backcourt worked together for an entire game, and the game plan didn’t seem to change much since Harden’s arrival. Harden stayed as the dominant ball-handler creating opportunities for others, as Irving came off screens to force problematic mismatches. Irving went off, making the best of his opportunities scoring 38 points on just 24 shots.
The weird thing was to see Harden so passive with only 19 points on 14 shots and only 4 free-throw attempts, but he did have 11 assists. With Durant sitting in this game, it would make sense for him to be more aggressive offensively, but instead, he seemed to be passive, possibly due to playing with a new team.
The Cavaliers exposed the Nets’ weakness once again as they got to the paint easily and often and outrebounded the Nets by 21. The Nets need help in the paint with 6-foot 8-inches Jeff Green playing many of his minutes at Center. The Nets are trying to address that with the Norvel Pelle sighing, a 6-foot 10-inch Center with a massive wingspan. He won’t play available till Sunday, January 31st, but we will soon if he has any impact on the team.
In the first win against the Heat, Durant was back, and the Nets’ offense was on fire.
1/23 vs Miami Heat
Durant dropped 31 points on 19 shots, and Irving had 28 on just 17 shots, showing how efficient this offense can be. Joe Harris, who might have the most to gain from Harden joining the team, dropped 23 points, shooting 7-12 from three. Hardens ability to spread the ball and create space on the court lead to Harris being open beyond the three-point line repeatedly, and he took advantage. Harden again seemed to be passive and played as the offensive creator, only shooting 9 shots and scoring 12 points, but getting to the line and taking 9 free throws and adding 11 assists.
The defense again was weak, allowing 124 points even though the Heat’s average is just around 106 points a game. With Tyler Herro out with a neck injury and Jimmy Butler with COVID protocols, Bam Adebayo feasted against the Nets’ weak interior defense. He dropped 41 points but only 5 total rebounds. The Nets actually outrebounded the Heat by 16, but the Nets’ 16 turnovers indicate that the Nets still need to iron things out.
1/25 vs Miami Heat
The second win against the Heat was a totally different game. Neither team reached 100 points as both teams shot a combined 38% from the field. The Nets played solid team defense having a team combined 90.9 defensive ratings per 100 possessions. This showed that the Nets have the talent to play solid defense if need be, and that should give fans hope. With the game close in the middle of the 4th quarter and with Durant and Irving struggling, Harden came alive. Harden scored 10 points in the quarter, half of his total points for the game, and added 2 assists. This game was the spark Harden needed as a Net and seemed the most comfortable playing alongside Irving and Durant.
On top of all that, the Nets brought their turnovers down to 7 and outrebounded the Heat by 4. Even though the offense didn’t play well, it was good to see that the Nets tough out a game with defense and solid play, something they will likely need to do more in the playoffs.
1/27 @ Atlanta Hawks
Finally, the game against the Atlanta Hawks was possible the best game Scary Hours has played and was the exact games fans have been waiting for. The big three combined for 89 points, Durant with 32, Harden scoring 31, and Irving with just 26, on a total of 63 shots. The game ran through them, and well, they dominated. Harden also added 15 assists to cement his role as the offensive creator. The team only committed 10 turnovers showing that the team is just starting to jell together and find its grove.
Defensively they again struggled, but the Hawks are a team that also plays through its offense, averaging 113 points ranking 10th in the league, so it makes sense to give up 129 points in an overtime game and only 116 in regular time. Again, the Nets struggled in the paint against an offensive big, and John Collins put up 21 points, but the signing of Pelle again could be a possible solution.
Another issue that has come up has been the minutes that the big three have been playing. Durant, Harden, and Irving all averaging over 35 minutes a game.
Steve Nash has already expressed to the media wanting to bring that down, which makes sense.
When the playoffs start, the team needs to be prepared and healthy for a long playoff push.
The Nets also have two roster spots open, and filling those with quality role players could be useful to drive those big three’s minutes down.
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