Late last night, the Brooklyn Nets visited the Suns in Phoenix as they continued their west coast road trip. Coming into this game, both squads had win streaks of their own. However, the hot Suns were on an astounding 6 game winning streak, while the Nets had a small 3 game win streak with two of their superstars unfortunately out due to nagging injuries. Despite all odds against this “under the radar” yet impressive team, the Brooklyn Nets pulled out the win. Brooklyn was relentless and determined to get this dub until the final buzzer, as they fought vigorously down the stretch. The Nets impressed many, and possibly themselves, in this incredible comeback win, 128-124.
Tough Game for Brooklyn
Right from the start, we could see that this matchup would be a tough game to win, let alone play. This was the expectation, especially against a red-hot Suns team that is solid from top to bottom. With 2 stars in their lineup along with an abundance of key role players, Phoenix had the upper hand. However, this was not the only major reason why the Nets would have a difficult time in this game. Having two big names in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving not being able to play on the court is always an issue in itself.
With Tyler Johnson replacing Kyrie Irving in the starting lineup, it was obvious that the skill difference and team chemistry might be a factor to why the Nets would have a tougher time winning this one. However, this would be a great opportunity for the bench players to get some minutes and gain some confidence. Of course, this game was not an impossible game to win, however against the odds the injury-ridden Nets were not supposed to win this one, especially with the horrible 1st half that they had. Brooklyn really needed to compete as a unit in this one, and that they just did, despite the rough start.
Immediately from the start, Suns all-star, Devin Booker had a hot start. From shooting in the mid-range to getting to the line regularly, he put on a 1st quarter show. The Nets had no answer for him or anyone else. The Suns lived in the paint as they displayed great pick and roll plays, and huge screens by center Deandre Ayton. Chris Paul abused the pick and roll and dominated the Nets early on. Despite the tough interior defense by Phoenix, the Nets found ways to move the ball around. Their excellent ball movement led to open looks, however, they did not make enough to close the gap.
On the defensive side, the Nets showed very little defensive effort and will as a team. Forced turnovers by Phoenix did also slow down Brooklyn, as they had no answers for the red hot Suns. This led to many runs by the Phoenix Suns and an early lead for them. Brooklyn needed to fight back hard to even get relatively close in this one. At one point the score differential was 24, the Suns’ biggest lead on the Nets all game. The score at halftime was a large margin of 21 points, Suns up, 54-75.
Nets Pulling Through
Right out of the gate, the 2nd half was much better than the 1st. The size was undoubtedly a factor for Phoenix, the Nets were forced to give Jeff Green more minutes. This played out well for them as he was a major reason why the Nets inched closer more and more. With Green’s veteran mind, he used his size on defense and rebounding to get some stops for Brooklyn. Defensive stops forced by “Uncle Jeff”, and other key players on the Nets created easy buckets in transition. With these stops and fast-break points by the Nets, they started to string together a few short runs throughout the period. When they entered the 3rd, it was clear who wanted it more.
The Nets were taking and making shots at an incredible rate, with high confidence too. Guys like Tyler Johnson, Jeff Green, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Joe Harris were shooting the lights out and moving the ball like a working machine. Johnson was a standout as he dropped 17 points along with 5 threes on great percentages. The amazing effort and high energy and pace showed by him were impressive in his first-ever start of the season. As they continued to fight back together, the score got tighter and the Suns started to get nervous.
By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Nets cut the lead down to 88-100. As they entered the final quarter, they had all the momentum and their confidence as a team was rising. Through improved 2nd half defense and smart double teams and defensive rotations, the Nets got a great number of stops. On the offensive side of things, Brooklyn advanced the ball looking to push the pace. As they did this, they kept passing the ball by driving to the rack and kicking it out for open shooters. On many possessions, everyone touched the ball. Their high intensity on both ends of the court bodes well for them.
With just under 9 minutes remaining in the game, Brooklyn cut the lead to just five. The Nets’ hot shooting teams went on, however, the Suns also were hitting ridiculous shots, especially from Chris Paul. The whole Nets team was boiling hot from three. Joe Harris, Tyler Johnson, Jeff Green, and even Landry Shamet all had important three balls.
The Nets finally halted the Phoenix rally in the fourth as they double-teamed and got a key stop, however, the officials called a foul on James Harden. With his only coach’s challenge still remaining, Coach Steve Nash used his challenge and succeeded after review. The Nets and Suns had a jump ball at center court and gained possession. Upon retaining the ball, James Harden shot an impossible long ball from three-point range to take the lead by one point.
The Nets forced tough shots down the final stretch as Landry Shamet played nearly perfect defense on Suns star Devin Booker. The Nets corralled the rebound and finally went on to win the game, ending on a 12-0 Brooklyn run. In crunch time, the Brooklyn Nets showed up and played together in one of their best wins of the season, and best comebacks in franchise history. Their great energy and willingness to not let up was ultimately why the Nets came back. They simply never quit.
Even though many players like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Nicolas Claxton, Iman Shumpert, and newly acquired Andre Roberson didn’t play, they showed great support for their team throughout the game. To me, this showed how extraordinary their team bond is, and how the chemistry continues to improve day by game. This is a great sign as we see everyone buying in, whether they are playing or on the bench. It is clear that the Brooklyn Nets have passion for the game, and they are in it to win it no matter what. What a game.
Continuing the West Coast Trip
Brooklyn’s next game is easily the biggest of the season so far, as they look to win a tough battle against the imposing Los Angeles Lakers (22-7), led by Lebron James. In this potential NBA Finals matchup, the Nets hope to continue their win streak. This would make it a 5 game winning streak, and 4 wins in a row on this tough west coast trip. As of right now, we do not know if Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving will be available to play, as they are dealing with minor injuries. However, the Brooklyn Nets will be ready to compete no matter what, as they have been waiting for this game all season. This game will be broadcasted live on YES Network and on national TV (TNT) at 10:00 PM ET.
James Harden– 38 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists, 14/22 FG in 37 minutes
Joe Harris– 22 points, 4 rebounds, 4 3PM, 8/13 FG in 31 minutes
Jeff Green– 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 7/14 FG in 25 minutes
Chris Paul– 29 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 12/20 FG in 35 minutes
Devin Booker– 22 points, 2 rebounds, 7 assists, 9/20 FG in 36 minutes
Deandre Ayton– 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists,7/9 FG in 34 minutes