The Brooklyn Nets‘ early-season defense returned tonight, as they fell to the Portland Trail Blazers, 128-109. This game was Brooklyn’s second game of a back-to-back, so unsurprisingly the team looked extremely exhausted. Kevin Durant did not play in this game as expected, but Kyrie Irving was available after missing last game with right groin soreness. Injury management has been very frustrating this season for the team.
Portland Could Not Miss
The Blazers came into this game as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league, and they played as advertised. Portland as a team shot 44.4% from three in this game, drilling 16 threes as a team. Damian Lillard, who has underperformed a bit lately, broke out offensively with 32 points, which included 8 threes.
Portland absolutely feasted in the paint in this game due to the Nets’ lack of size, which is a big reason why 6 Blazers scored in double-figures. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan did all they could do to protect the paint, but the Nets are clearly missing their best post defender in Nicolas Claxton. Jusuf Nurkic saw little resistance in the paint dropping an easy 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Nets Had No Effort in Second Half
The first half of this game was fairly close, with neither team having a lead of more than 7. After halftime however, the Nets intensity dropped dramatically, as they gave up nearly 70 points to the Blazers in the second half. Absolutely pathetic performance which made the game unwatchable.
The Nets need to realize that the season isn’t over and games still matter. Brooklyn is now only a 0.5 game in front of the Sixers for first place. With Philadelphia having one of the easiest remaining schedules and owning the tiebreaker between the two teams, the Nets need to win as many games as possible.
With a team that has lots of injury concerns and is still forming chemistry, getting the easiest pathway to the Conference Finals needs to be a main goal. The Nets should not want to face a healthy Sixers or Bucks team before the Conference Finals. Getting the first seed will help the Nets accomplish that.
What’s Next for the Nets
The Nets will have tomorrow off before heading to Milwaukee to face the Bucks, not once, but twice. Luckily for the Nets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both expected to play, as well as Bruce Brown. The Nets are missing his defensive intensity after this blowout loss. The first game against the Bucks will be on Sunday, with an early 3:30 PM EST start-time. The game will be broadcasted nationally on ABC.