The Brooklyn Nets head into this week, coming off their worst loss of the season versus the Oklahoma City Thunder. In a game where Kevin Durant played and dropped 36 points in an electrifying performance, the outcome was more than disappointing. Coming off a tough loss, this upcoming week couldn’t be more crucial for the Nets. With three games this week versus the Nuggets, Knicks, and Magic, the Nets must capitalize on what looks to be a few favorable matchups. Let’s go through each matchup and what the Nets must do to win.
Brooklyn finds themselves taking on the Nuggets in their first game of the week, a team that has been a bit disappointing to start the year (sound familiar…?)The Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray duo remain as strong as ever, but the Nuggets are missing the likes of Jerami Grant, Torrey Craig, and Mason Plumlee this year. Michael Porter Jr. is also currently on the COVID list. The Nets must look to take advantage of this and bounce back with a dominant defensive performance. If the Nets can contain the Murray-Jokic pick and roll, they would be able to win the game, as Denver wouldn’t have many other options to turn to. A win versus Denver would be a statement win, one that is ever so needed right now by the Nets.
On the second night of a back to back, the Nets find themselves taking on their neighbors, the New York Knicks. The Knicks have been one of the biggest surprises this year, as they sit at 5-5, with Tom Thibodeau seemingly changing the culture completely. However, the Nets have far more talent than the Knicks, which is a game they should easily win. The key will be to keep Julius Randle in check, as he has been the Knicks biggest threat so far this year. The Knicks don’t have many shooters, so as long as Brooklyn protects the paint, something they struggled with against OKC, they should be in a position to win this game.
Closing out their week versus the Orlando Magic, the Nets find themselves with another very winnable game. The Magic currently sit at 6-4 but just lost Markelle Fultz to a torn ACL and have been blown out their past two games. While the Magic have some nice pieces, the Nets have far more talent, which should be enough to take care of business. Defense again should be the primary focus, as if they can contain Evan Fournier and Cole Anthony, then their offense will come naturally. The Nets cannot afford to lose this one, especially after some bad losses already this season.
A big issue from this past week has been Steve Nash and his rotation questions. Nash cannot seem to figure out a rotation that is effective and that he likes. One obvious takeaway is that he needs to have Jarrett Allen closing every single game. What happened against Memphis this past week where Allen didn’t replace Deandre Jordan until 1:30 left on the clock is unacceptable. It cost Brooklyn the game. In addition, it’s finally time for Nash to bench Landry Shamet permanently. Whenever Shamet is out on the floor, he has hurt the Nets, as he has not been able to offer anything with his shooting and has also been a defensive liability. Nash has been flip-flopping between Shamet and Bruce Brown, and I hope this week we see Nash go with Brown and stick with him.
Overall, the Nets should go into this week to win at least ⅔ of these games. While Kyrie Irving‘s status is still up in the air, the Nets’ focus does not change this week. They need to get it together on the defensive end, or else they could see themselves dropping even more very winnable games.