The Brooklyn Nets went up against the Indiana Pacers Wednesday night at Barclays Center for the first time this season. Upon playing this physical and entertaining matchup, we got to see ex-Net Caris LeVert reuniting with his old, beloved team. Despite being on Indiana’s bench, due to an unfortunate growth on his kidney, we got to witness a fierce contest between the struggling Nets and an underrated Pacers team. While both squads came into this matchup experiencing a disappointing 3-game losing streak, they were both eager to win, especially Brooklyn. Having shown the media their obvious miscommunication and poor chemistry in recent games, they came out to make a statement. They did just that as the Nets got away with the win, 104-94.
Nets Wake up on the Defensive End
As the Nets continue to have the holes in their defense exploited and used by other teams, the NBA media has been highlighting it day by day. Not only has it been talked about by NBA fans and media, but the organization itself has been discussing it for the past few weeks. The Nets have recently been having trouble beating teams under .500, with a record of 4-8. While the Nets have a record of 11-5 against above .500 teams. Whether the media or everyday fans blame the roster itself, or just plain effort, I think it’s clear that Brooklyn knows that they need to amp up on the defensive end.
Against the Pacers, right when the game began, the Brooklyn Nets were a different team. Every player it seemed, was locked in from the start. Kyrie Irving looked like himself again despite the minor finger sprain he suffered, which caused him to miss one game. The shooting, for once, was the main problem. Despite the open looks and great ball movement (for the most part) from the starters and bench alike, the Nets struggled a bit.
Some turnovers were sloppy and unforced, however, they soon picked it up in the 1st half as they went on a 15-0 in the 2nd quarter. It all started with Brooklyn’s intense defense as the guards played amazing perimeter defense, as they gave the Pacers no room to breathe. From full-court presses to intense ball pressure, the Nets gave it their all. Along with the impressive defensive showing, they outrebounded the Pacers as a team, 32-16 by halftime.
From Defense to Offense
The Nets’ defense led to open shots and fastbreak points too, as flashes of prime manifested. From strong rebounds to blocked shots, to “grown man jams” DJ was an immediate positive impact. The main ball handlers did their part as alley-oops were being thrown and open shooters were being passed to. The guards were driving aggressively through traffic. Attacking the rim put pressure on Indiana, as they were forced to either double or foul, which led to an abundance of free throw attempts for Brooklyn. The Nets were explosive throughout. With their energy and effort surging, it became contagious.
Battle in Brooklyn’s locker room
An area of concern that many people are pointing out, besides lackluster defense by Brooklyn, is the heated conversations between Nets star James Harden and Nets center DeAndre Jordan. In their most recent game against the Detroit Pistons, both players seemed to show immense frustration on the court. After timeouts were called, they continued to argue and jaw at each other. Many see this as a negative, especially most media outlets. However, this seems to be one of the many steps in order to become that desired championship team.
If the Nets want to win, they must communicate and figure out their problems together as a unit. You can look at the horrible loss to the Pistons and the arguments between teammates as to why the Nets came up with such a solid dub. The defensive-minded Nets were a sight for sore eyes, as they played one of their best defensive games this season by far. They held the Pacers to an overall field goal percentage of 39%.
While most of this game, especially in the first half of basketball, the Nets were in sync with one another. However, as the game went along there were quite a few hiccups. Whether it was a miscommunication with plays, defensive rotations, or missed defensive rebounds, they were not anywhere close to perfect as a team. However, they called important timeouts, came together, and discussed how they could maintain the lead as the Pacers kept fighting back to try to get the game to single digits.
By the end of the game, the Nets showed how much effort they were willing to give. Without Kevin Durant on the floor, they need this type of effort. By the end of this game, we all know that the problem isn’t completely on coaching or the roster. It is simply the overall effort of the group. The Brooklyn Nets showed great energy in this win for the majority of this game. If they can take this sample of a game into future matchups, then they can string together more wins. Their record now stands at 15-12.
Next Stop for Brooklyn
The Nets’ next game will feature the much improved Golden State Warriors (13-12), led by 2-time MVP Steph Curry. This will be the second meeting between these two teams, as the first game was a 26 point blow out from the new-look Nets. The Brooklyn Nets look to start a new win streak this weekend as they embark on a 5 game road trip across the west coast. The game will be broadcasted live on YES Network at 8:30 PM EST.
Kyrie Irving– 35 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 8/17 FG in 35 minutes
James Harden– 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4/13 FG in 35 minutes
Deandre Jordan– 12 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks, 5/8 FG in 36 minutes
Domantas Sabonis– 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 7/20 FG in 35 minutes
Malcolm Brogdon– 15 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 5/17 FG in 34 minutes
T.J. McConnell– 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists,6/11 FG in 26 minutes