Kevin Durant: I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant isn’t built for the pressure of playing in the ‘mecca’.

Durant doubled down on his claim that the New York Knicks was never an option during his free agency last year.

The Knicks were made to believe they had an inside track on Durant and another star free agent of his liking. But as it turned out, it wasn’t the case.

“I never planned on going to the Knicks. That was just the media putting that out there especially when I didn’t sign a 3-year deal that previous summer. Once I signed a 1+1, just the noise got louder around me just going to the Knicks for some reason. The Knicks need a savior, you know how that goes. Every time a big free agent is up, the Knicks are going to get him. It just took off,” Durant said in The Old Man and the Three Podcast.

The Brooklyn Nets star accused the media for spreading the rumor during his tumultuous last season with the Golden State Warriors. His former teammate Draymond Green publicly feuded with him which put a strain in their locker room chemistry. While it was injuries, which ultimately caused their downfall in the Finals, it was clear that all the drama that surrounded the Warriors factored in his decision to leave.

“Once the media infiltrated our locker room with that Draymond situation, they just ran with the rumors even more and it just got so loud every single day. I think the media just hyped it up and just wanted to make drama around the team and  around me so much that they made up this Knicks thing,” said Durant who called media in the Bay area as the “worst” and “obsessed” with his free agency.

The Knicks never had the chance to get an audience with Durant nor with any marquee free agents. With the stars spurning them, they signed ill-fitted veterans to short deals to maintain cap flexibility.

“Around February, I was thinking I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York. I didn’t care about being the king of New York. That never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway. I just wanted to play ball and go to the crib and chill. I felt like that’s what Brooklyn embodied,” Durant said.

The Nets are hoping the trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving, and rookie coach Steve Nash will usher in a new era in Brooklyn as they aim to take over New York from the Knicks starting next season.

“Brooklyn was everything I’m about: chill, on the low, all black, we quiet, just focus on basketball. There’s no show when you come to our games. No Madison Square mecca, all of that s–t. We just gonna hoop and build something new in Brooklyn,” Durant added. 

The Knicks, meanwhile, are hoping to change that negative perception around them with the arrival of new team president Leon Rose and coach Tom Thibodeau to usher in a real rebuild. And they hope to acquire a star with a mentality to take on the challenge of leading the Knicks out of the doldrums.

 

Brooklyn Nets: Diving into what led the Nets to hire Steve Nash as new HC

Brooklyn Nets, Steve Nash

You can’t bring up the best point guards of all time and not mention the name, Steve Nash. His brilliant 18-year career in the NBA made him stand out as one of the fiercest competitors and greatest play-makers in the history of the game. Nash went from being an undersized backup point guard as a rookie on the Suns to a two-time MVP, 8-time NBA All-Star, and 7-time 1st team all-NBA. He most recently served as a player development consultant on the Golden State Warriors. Earlier today, Nash was named the 27th coach in the history of the Nets franchise and was signed to a 4-year contract (Full Nets Press Release HERE). Let’s dive into why the Nets made this hire and how they will fare moving forward with Nash at the helm.

MY REACTION TO THE NASH HIRE:

What made the Nets decide to go in this direction?

According to NetsDaily beat reporter Anthony “Pooch” Puccio, this decision was made way before the Orlando bubble even started.

If the Nets chose to hire Nash in May, did interim coach Jacque Vaughn ever have a fighting chance for this job? What would Vaughn have had to do in the bubble to win the job over Nash? While the Nets seem to value their former interim head coach enough to keep him on the staff as an assistant, clearly they felt Nash (even with no NBA head coaching experience) would be better suited to lead this superstar built team.

Let’s start by taking a look at Nash’s prior relationship with Kevin Durant. Nash was a player development consultant on the Golden State Warriors during Durant’s tenure in the Bay Area, and the two seemed to get along well during their time together. Check out this video of Nash and Durant practicing together, tweeted by NetsDaily reporter Matt Brooks:

Obviously, Durant and Kyrie would have to sign off on whichever coach Marks decided to choose. From an outside perspective, it appears that Durant was 100% on board with this hire. For Kyrie Irving, Nash is a coach that views the game through the same lens as he does. My assumption would be it didn’t take too much convincing for Kyrie to be buy into one of the greatest point guards of all time becoming his new head coach, especially since Kyrie still considers himself a student of the game.

The Nets star of the bubble, Caris LeVert, also had a positive experience with Nash when he trained with the former MVP and Kevin Durant in California four years ago. In a 2016 article written by Pooch, LeVert described his experience with Nash as “great” and was extremely happy about the trip. Fast forward three years later, KD is now his teammate (and was one of his biggest fans this year), and Steve Nash is now his head coach.

How will the Nets Fare with Nash at the Helm?

In today’s modern NBA, you don’t need a ton of head coaching experience to be a successful coach. Look at the last several coaches to win NBA championships: Steve Kerr, Tyronn Lue, Nick Nurse. All were first-time NBA head coaches. In Kerr’s case, similar to Nash, he didn’t even have experience as an assistant coach. What makes a great coach in today’s NBA is how he communicates and gets along with his players. Nash has been known as one of the nicest guys in the league. Marks referred to Nash as a leader, communicator, and mentor in his statement on the signing. With the Nash + Vaughn combination, I don’t think the players on the Nets will have any problem buying into their new coaching staff.

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BREAKING NEWS: Brooklyn Nets to hire Steve Nash as next head coach (Report)

The Brooklyn Nets will reportedly hire Steve Nash as the 27th head coach in team history. Interim boss Jacque Vaughn will be retained.

Per ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are set to name Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash the 27th head coach in team history. Nash’s initial contract will be for four years.

Wojnarowski also reports that interim head coach Jacque Vaughn will be retained as an assistant and “become the league’s best compensated assistant coach”.

This will be the first coaching job for Nash, 46, who spent 18 seasons with Phoenix, Dallas, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Johannesburg, South Africa native entered the league as a first-round pick (15th overall) of the Suns in 1996 out of Santa Clara. Nash is generally regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history, winning two MVP awards (2005, 2007) and reaching eight All-Star Games. He also leads NBA players with four 50-40-90 seasons, shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 90 percent from the foul line. Larry Bird is the only other player in NBA history to earn multiple such seasons. Nash was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018 alongside fellow former Suns teammates Jason Kidd and Grant Hill.

After retiring in 2015, he took on part-time consultant duties with the Golden State Warriors, partaking in the team’s most recent two championship runs (2017, 2018). He also held a similar role for the Canadian national basketball squad, previously serving as the team’s general manager for nearly seven years. The team earned a silver medal at the 2015 PanAmerican Games in Toronto, their best finish in the tournament’s history.

Vaughn returns to assistant duties after taking over for the fired Kenny Atkinson in March. He went 7-3 during his time at the helm, including a surprising 5-3 mark in the NBA’s Orlando bubble proceedings. Brooklyn was swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

This story will be updated pending further information.

Geoff Maglocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Carmelo Anthony wants to stay in Portland but Knicks, Nets could still be in play

New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony sported the New York Knicks colorway during the pregame and postgame of his final game this season.  But the Brooklyn native insisted that he wants to return to Portland next season.

Speculations of the 36-year old Anthony returning to New York for the last stretch of his career ran rampant once Leon Rose, his former agent, took over as the Knicks president. Fuel was added more to the fire when Mike Woodson, Anthony’s former coach in New York, was reported this week to be finalizing a deal to return as one of Tom Thibodeau’s assistants.  But Anthony made his intentions known to return to Portland as soon as his comeback season ended in a 131-122 Game 5 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

 

“In my mind, I’ll be right back in the fray of things when next season comes,” Anthony said in his postgame interview.  “I pray that it can be Portland, I think I found a home in Portland.”

This is Anthony doubling down on his January statement that he wants to retire in Portland.

“I got comfortable with the organization. I got comfortable with the guys on the team. They got comfortable with me,” he added.

With a renewed confidence, Anthony averaged 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists during the regular season. He more than proved his value to the Blazers in the Bubble where he hit two clutch shots during their wild run to the playoffs.

Anthony capped his comeback story this season with a vintage performance, logging in 27 points on 9-16 shooting, including 3 of 4 from deep while adding seven rebounds and one assist in a losing effort against his longtime friend and rival Lebron James.

Despite a disappointing end to Anthony’s otherwise magical season, the performance became a validation for the 10-time All-Star who returned to the league with a chip on his shoulder.

Anthony, who was out of the NBA for more than a year, revitalized his career in Portland. He came in to plug a hole in the injury-riddled roster and he’s exceeded expectations and outvalued his veteran minimum contract.

Along the way, Anthony was able to repair his tarnished reputation following his ugly exits in both Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.  He showed he could co-exist with younger stars.  He even claimed that Damian Lillard is the top guy he’s ever played with.  After their loss to the Lakers, CJ McCollum described Anthony as “fantastic” while Portland coach Terry Stotts said he felt honored to coach him.

“At this point in my career, I do think that that’s the best fit for me, the best situation. Especially having this experience now and kind of just getting my feet wet, coming in, and being who I am and staying true to myself. I really hope that it can be Portland at the end of the day where we give ourselves a chance to keep this team together, get guys healthy, and get another run at it,” Anthony said.

The feeling may be mutual but returning to Portland next season is easier said than done from a financial standpoint and the new team optics moving forward.

The Trail Blazers already owe almost $110 million salaries to 10 players next season.  They also have to decide whether to bring Hassan Whiteside and Trevor Ariza back. Unless Anthony is willing to accept another veteran minimum contract (Portland can pay him 120% of his current veteran’s minimum contract if over the cap, otherwise, they use cap space to re-sign him for more) to play a reduced role next season, his dream of returning to Portland might remain just a dream. Rodney Hood and Zach Collins are expected to eat up on Anthony’s minutes once they return from their injuries.

The Knicks, if the rumors are true, could offer a larger one-year or a two-year deal and a more significant role in a young team in need of a veteran presence and outside shooting in the three and four spots.  Or Anthony could ride the sunset and make a grand Brooklyn homecoming. Teaming up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a much lighter path in the East to chase a ring could also be a good situation at this stage of his career.

Clifford Robinson, NY State native, former Net, passes away at 53

The Buffalo native reached the 1994 NBA All-Star Game and spent his final three seasons with the New Jersey Nets.

Buffalo native and former NBA All-Star Clifford Robinson passed away on Saturday at the age of 53. His death was confirmed by his alma mater, the University of Connecticut, and the cause has yet to be disclosed.

Robinson was born in Buffalo and got his start at Riverside High School. He then spent four seasons at UConn, where his No. 00 was retired in 2007. His efforts in Storrs led him to be selected in the second round (36th overall) of the 1989 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.

During his eight seasons in Portland, Robinson established himself as one of the Association’s most impactful bench players, averaging 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds. Robinson played a major in Portland’s most recent treks to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. During the latter journey, Robinson popularized a dance he labeled the “Uncle Cliffy”, a moniker that would come to define him for the rest of his career. Robinson even referenced the dance in his Twitter handle.

He also displayed remarkable durability, missing no games in any of his first five seasons. His streak of 461 consecutive games in a Blazers uniform stands as a Portland record. His individual efforts were rewarded with the 1993 Sixth Man of the Year Award and an invite to the 1994 NBA All-Star Game in Minneapolis.

Robinson signed with the Phoenix Suns in 1997. Notably, he became the oldest player in NBA history (33 years, two months) to record his first 50-point game in a January 2000 win over Denver. Robinson was also named to two NBA All-Defensive Teams at the ages of 33 and 35.

After tenures with Phoenix, Detroit, and Golden State, Robinson joined the New Jersey Nets in February 2005 via a trade with the Warriors. He came up big early on, scoring 11 fourth-quarter points in his sixth game with the team, a 99-93 win over Philadelphia. The Nets reached the playoffs in each of his three seasons with the team. He would retire after the Nets released him in July 2007. Robinson ended his NBA career as the tallest player (6 feet, 10 inches) to hit at least 1,000 three-pointers in his NBA career. He tallied averages of 14.6 points and 4.6 rebounds over 18 seasons.

“Cliff played very well for us, number one,”  Thorn said after re-signing Robinson for the 2006-07 season, per ESPN.com. “Number two, he’s very popular with his teammates. Number three, he’s a leader in the clubhouse.”

Retirement was anything but for Robinson. He came in 14th place during the 28th edition of the reality show Survivor, accompanied Dennis Rodman on his basketball tour of North Korea in 2014, and became a medicinal cannabis advocate.

Robinson is survived by his wife Heather and son Isaiah, who played Division I basketball at Houston Baptist.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Brooklyn Nets to ‘explore’ bringing in Gregg Popovich

Brooklyn Nets, Sean Marks

The first order of business for the Brooklyn Nets this offseason is hiring a full-time head coach. The team fired head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, promoting Jacque Vaughn under the interim tag.

Despite mentioning the low likelihood that it comes to fruition, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Nets are expected to “explore” acquiring San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

“The lovable underdog days of the Nets are numbered, with league sources, including those familiar with the Nets and the Spurs, expecting Brooklyn to explore bringing the NBA’s biggest coaching name — Gregg Popovich — to the Nets’ sidelines.

Brooklyn, according to sources, almost certainly will be unsuccessful because the Spurs coach’s legacy is so closely tied to San Antonio, where he’s built a life and a legacy over the past two decades. Plus he’s under contract. There’s a “never say never” element according to one NBA executive, but it’ll probably never happen.”

Popovich signed a three-year extension with the Spurs last year. San Antonio was eliminated from playoff contention in the Western Conference on Thursday, marking the first time since 1997 that they’ve missed the playoffs under Popovich.

Popovich was an assistant for the Spurs from 1988-94. He has been the team’s head coach since the 1996-97 NBA season and has won five NBA championships, the last coming in the 2013-14 season.

Last week it was reported that the Nets will meet with Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

The Nets are 7-3 under Vaughn. They finished the 2019-20 regular season 35-37, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn will face off with the two-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, which begins on Monday.

Brooklyn Nets: Kyrie Irving offers words of encouragement for Caris LeVert

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

The Brooklyn Nets are without roughly half their roster in the NBA bubble due to a combination of injuries and players opting out of play. Subsequently, those present have assumed larger workloads in head coach Jacque Vaughn’s rotation, one of them being Caris LeVert.

In the six games he has appeared in since the regular season resumed, LeVert has averaged 25.0 points, 6.7 assists and five rebounds per game while shooting 48.0 percent from the field.

Kyrie Irving is among the Nets players absent from the bubble, but the star point guard has offered LeVert words of encouragement (quotes per Marc Berman of the New York Post).

“I talked to Ky [on Friday] morning, talked about the games and playoffs coming up and giving me encouragement,’’ LeVert said on a Zoom call Saturday. “He’s watching all the games. He’s been in this position before, fighting for something.’’

The Nets took the Portland Trail Blazers, who were playing to get into the NBA playoffs, to the final buzzer of their Thursday night matchup. Despite losing 134-133, there were positives for the Nets to build on, specifically LeVert’s performance.

The homegrown first rounder finished with 37 points, nine assists and six rebounds while shooting 16-of-29 from the field. LeVert finished the 2019-20 NBA regular season averaging 18.7 points, 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Vaughn feels Irving reaching out to LeVert is “huge.”

“It’s huge Caris got a call from Ky — that’s a great thing this isn’t an individual sport,’’ Vaughn said. “Just because we don’t have the group with us, doesn’t mean they can’t be part of it. Caris appreciated that.’’

The Nets finished the regular season 35-37, which is good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and 5-3 in the bubble. They’ll begin their first-round series matchup with the second-seeded and defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors on Monday. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.

Brooklyn Nets confident they can hang with Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets, Caris Levert

The Brooklyn Nets, 34-36, recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently slated to face off with the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite going 1-3 against their divisional rival this season, the Nets feel they have a chance to knock out the Raptors.

Caris LeVert says if the Nets “move the ball well” and “play good defense” they can win the series (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“We know they’re a really good team. Obviously they’re playing good basketball, they move the ball really well, they’re a great defensive team, as well,” Caris LeVert said. “But for us, we feel like it’s about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defense, if we’re locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we’re gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in.”

The Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the NBA bubble. Despite the aforementioned absences, the Nets have pulled off a handful of impressive victories which include beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the new faces for the Nets is guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson says that if the Nets play their “style of basketball” they can beat anybody.

“As far as going into Toronto, you know what to expect. Then again, there’s no homecourt advantage. You’re playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody, and we showed it.”

Garrett Temple says if the Nets, who are 4-2 in the bubble, continue to “share the ball” and “get stops” they can win some games.

“To clinch seventh was big for us, obviously. We wanted to play whoever was going to be in that second spot, obviously it’s Toronto. We feel confident,” Garrett Temple said. “We’re confident. If we play the right way, if we play like we’ve been playing the last 2 or 3 games, share the ball, get stops, even though they turn people over, if we’re able to take care of it and do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to win some games.”

Jacque Vaughn is 6-2 since taking over as interim head coach in March.

Brooklyn Nets coaching candidates revealed

New York Knicks, Ime Udoka

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Los Angeles Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, Philadelphia 76ers assistant Ime Udoka, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are candidates to become the next head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

Charania says that Nets owner Joe Tsai wants a “full-scale head coaching process to identify the best partner for team ownership, the front office, coaching staff and players.” The process will begin after the Nets’ season concludes.

Kidd played seven and a half seasons with the New Jersey Nets and coached the Brooklyn Nets in the 2013-14 NBA season. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks after one year, where he coached for three and a half seasons. Kidd is in his first season as an assistant with the Lakers.

Udoka was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-19. He joined Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2019.

Lue was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics from 2011-13, the Clippers in the 2013-14 season and the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2015-16 before being promoted to head coach in January 2016. Lue’s Cavs won the 2016 NBA championship. The head coach was fired six games into the 2018-19 season and rejoined the Clippers coaching staff in 2019.

Van Gundy last coached in the NBA in 2007. He was the head coach of the Houston Rockets from 2003-07. Beforehand, he was an assistant for the New York Knicks from 1989-96. He then became the team’s head coach in 1996, a position he’d hold until 2002.

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson and promoted assistant Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach in March.

The Nets, 34-36, are 6-2 under Vaughn and 4-2 in the NBA bubble. They recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re playing without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in Walt Disney World.

Brooklyn Nets: Evaluating this Team through 3 games

Jacque Vaughn, Brooklyn Nets

The date is March 10th, 2020. Spencer Dinwiddie hits the go-ahead jumper against the Lakers to put the Nets up 2. Anthony Davis misses a wide-open three to win the game, and the Brooklyn Nets hold on to upset the Lakers 104-102, which ends up being their last game together before the season is suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Nets were playing their best basketball of the season at that point under interim coach Jacque Vaughn.

Let’s fast forward a few months (with no basketball) to present day. The Brooklyn Nets have now played three games since the NBA season resumed and are a shell of what the team looked like in March, due to a large portion of the roster either choosing to opt-out or being forced to opt-out due to health/injury reasons. The team still has Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Chris Chiozza, Garrett Temple, and Joe Harris,  players who have all been essential pieces for Brooklyn all year. New faces, including Lance Thomas, Justin Anderson, Tyler Johnson, Jamal Crawford, and Donta Hall, have been thrust into the rotation as they work on developing chemistry and finding their role on this team.

Let’s break down the Nets performances game by game, starting with their first match-up with Orlando.

Orlando: 128  vs. Brooklyn: 118 – Full box score

Remember how Nets fans were excited to play this Orlando Magic team twice in the bubble? Well, it turns out that excitement was extremely misguided because the Magic destroyed the Nets in every aspect of this basketball game. This was a rough game for the two leaders on this team, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen. LeVert finished with 17 off of 7-17 from the field and 0-4 from three but, most importantly, was a -26 while on the floor. Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and grabbed 5 boards. The Nets started the game off well, scoring 39 in the first quarter and grabbing a 3 point lead, but fell apart in the 2nd and the 3rd quarter, being outscored by Orlando by 32 points. 

The only bright spot for the Nets was Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who got out of the #NETSTwitter doghouse after his awful play in the scrimmages. TLC finished with 24 points off 8-12 from the field and 5-8 from three. It was great to see TLC get in a rhythm and get some shots to fall. Outside of LeVert/Allen playing poorly, Chris Chiozza (2 points on 1-6) and Garrett Temple (3 points on 1-5) were extremely underwhelming in this game. The Nets, as a team, failed to stop Orlando on the break and had no answer for Evan Fournier (24 points), Nikola Vucevic (22 points), Johnathon Issac (16 points), and Aaron Gordon (10 points & 11 rebounds).

Brooklyn: 118 vs. Washington: 110 – Full Box Score

Things went much differently for Brooklyn in Game #2. While they were unable to stop Thomas Bryant of the Wizards the entire game, who went for 30 points and 13 rebounds, everyone on the floor played significantly better for Brooklyn and were able to win a close contest in the 4th, outscoring the Wizards 35 to 25 in the final quarter.

Caris LeVert (34 points), Joe Harris (27 points & 6 made threes), and Jarrett Allen (22 points & 15 rebounds) rebounded well from their subpar performances in the Orlando game, and all played up to their potential. Chris Chiozza finally decided to show up, dropping 14 points and dishing out 6 dimes off the bench. No other player was in double figures for Brooklyn, but they were able to pull out a much-needed win against Washington, who might win the title for “worst team left in the NBA restart.”

Brooklyn: 119 vs. Milwaukee: 116 – Full Box Score

Even though the Brooklyn Nets won a much-needed contest against the Wizards, many doubted their chances against Milwaukee on Tuesday afternoon. Jacque Vaughn even decided this game would be a great time to rest his most important three starters; Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. The spread was as high as -18 before the game began. But never forget that old adage, that’s why you play the game.

The Nets stunned Giannis and the Bucks in the first half, hitting 14 shots from three-point land, a season-high for Brooklyn. TLC finished the game with 26 points on 8-12 from the field and 5-7 from the three-point line. Garrett Temple chipped in with 19 points and had his best game of the season as well.

The Nets led the Bucks 73 – 65 after the 1st half, and that was a half in which Giannis and Middleton each played a significant amount of minutes. Those two players were on the bench for the remainder of the game after halftime, a strategy most would assume was the Bucks plan prior to tip-off. While the Bucks clawed their way back into the game by outscoring the Nets in the final two quarters, Brooklyn was able to show toughness and resolve we hadn’t seen from them since March in the final few minutes of the game. Whether it was a clutch TLC three or a gritty Tyler Johnson rebound and put back, the Nets made all the plays they needed to make down the stretch to win the game.

Some other guys who gave the Nets great minutes: Donta Hall, who only scored 4 points and grabbed 9 boards, had an epic dust-up with Giannis after the two were wrestling for a rebound and Giannis ended up on the ground. Hall also had a highlight-reel block on Sterling Brown later in the game as well. Justin Anderson gave the Nets 11 off the bench, hitting 3 three-pointers in the process. Chiozza had a nice 10 point 10 assist game and has proven to be an excellent decision-maker in these last few games.

The Bad News: Jamal Crawford made his highly anticipated Nets debut, only to leave the game after a few minutes with some type of hamstring injury. His return to the court this season is now questionable.

Biggest Takeaway from first 3 Games & What’s Next?

Three games in, if anything about this team, it’s that they are extremely tough, and it will take a lot to break this team’s will. Many fans assumed the team would try and tank after their embarrassing loss to Orlando. The Nets followed that game up with two close wire to wire wins against Washington and Milwaukee. In that Milwaukee game, 8 of the 11 active players on the roster were G-League players at some point this season. The Nets will not shoot this well from three every game, and TLC/Garrett Temple most likely will not combine for 45 points on a nightly basis, but you have to like what you’re seeing from this Nets team through three games. Jacque Vaughn has done an outstanding coaching job with the Net’s gameplan these last two games, especially for Milwaukee, in which the team primarily ran a 2-3 zone on defense, and really seems to be coming into his own as Head Coach of this team.

Next Up: The Brooklyn Nets will go for their 3rd straight win when they face the Boston Celtics on Wednesday (8/5/20) night at 9:00 pm EST.

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