Who poses the greatest threat to the Brooklyn Nets’ Championship hopes?

Brooklyn Nets

Despite coming up short once again in the playoffs last season, the Brooklyn Nets grew a lot stronger over the course of 2021. Even with all of the turnover and injury setbacks their lineup endured, the Nets found a way to play elite basketball, win games, and develop the chemistry a team needs to succeed at the highest level.

This feat was accomplished in a variety of ways, starting first and foremost with their Big 3 in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. Whether they play all together or not, these three superstars proved just how unprecedented their impact is with their unique and highly gifted array of skills they offer individually.

However, outside of the superstardom that comes with their Big 3, the Nets put in a lot of time and energy to assemble a core unit of role players that can provide the essential ingredients of success this teams needs to win a championship.

This summer, the Nets decided to build on that by not only capitalizing on a good draft, selecting bright rookies like Cameron Thomas and Kessler Edwards while trading for Day’Ron Sharpe. But they also signed playmaking point guard Patty Mills, acquired defensive experts in James Johnson and DeAndre’ Bembry, and over this past week alone, signed Paul Millsap, brought back LaMarcus Aldridge to a one-year deal, and traded DeAndre Jordan to the Pistons for Jahil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya.

With just about all of the talent and depth they need, the Nets have emerged as the favorites to win the NBA Finals in 2022. But despite such, the road to get there won’t be an easy one as a handful of Eastern Conference teams look to establish their own legacy with championship glory.

Without further ado, here are the Top 3 Eastern Conference teams that pose as the greatest threat to the Nets title hopes this season:

3. Miami Heat:

As shocking as it might seem, the Miami Heat are a playoff underdog this season. Similar to that of the Nets, the Heat grew much stronger over the offseason, adding key players to bolster a lackluster offense and reinforce their Top 5 defense.

At the forefront of their new acquisitions is veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, a sharp two-way player that brings scoring versatility and playmaking creativity to a Heat guard unit that lacked both last season.

Following his final year in Toronto, where he posted 17.2 ppg, 7.3 apg, 5.4 rpg, and 1.0 spg to top it off, Lowry doesn’t bring the flashiest numbers but provides enough offensive prowess and defensive edge on the perimeter that make him a really nice fit in Miami.

In addition, the Heat added two stretch power forwards in P.J. Tucker and Markief Morris, injecting stout three-point shooting and lock-down defense into their rotation as well. With Victor Oladipo looking to make a big comeback, be it off the bench or as a starter, the Heat pose a lot of tough matchup concerns defensively for the Nets, particularly along the perimeter.

The Nets can certainly take down the Heat in six games or less, but a lot rests on their offensive efficiency to overcome the Heat’s defensive fortitude and offensive balance from the wing and inside. This Heat team is well-coached, has a plenty of veteran experience, contains depth filled with youth, athleticism, and potential, and possesses a level of grit and unselfishness to succeed at the highest level.

And following a rough playoff exit against the Bucks last season, the Heat are seeking redemption and should not be overlooked.

2. Atlanta Hawks:

At number two is the Atlanta Hawks, and for a good reason. After sealing the 5th seed in the East with a stout 41-31 record to show for, the Hawks surpassed postseason expectations with a remarkable playoff performance that eventually came to an end in the Conference Finals against the Bucks.

From their walking-highlight-reel point guard in Trae Young, to the versatile and athletic heroics of John Collins, to the rebounding and defensive proficiency from Clint Capella, the Hawks have a tough and imposing big three that comes along with a lethal offensive supporting cast.

Whether it’s Kevin Huerter, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, DeAndre Hunter, or Cam Reddish, the Hawks are stacked with shooters and depth that can certainly contend with just about any offense in the league, including the Nets themselves.

That said, the Hawks are certainly not as defensively durable as other Eastern Conference teams, which is an advantage the Nets could certainly exploit with their very own big three.

However, the Hawks found a way to shut down the Knicks in five games, scrape by the 76ers in seven games, and just fell short to the Bucks in six. And considering how young and well-balanced their team is offensively, the Hawks are a major threat to any Eastern Conference contender as they strive to accomplish their first Finals appearance since 1961.

1. Milwaukee Bucks:

Outside of the fact that they are the defending champs, the Milwaukee Bucks have proven just how elite they can be on both sides of the ball. Spearheaded by their athletic, freak-of-nature-of-a-superstar in Giannis Antetokounmpo, both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday played influential roles with assisting their best player in achieving the Bucks’ second championship title in 50 years.

But what tops off the greatness of this team really comes down to the role players the Bucks have that insert their dominance with passion and embrace their responsibilities for the pure sake of winning. Be it Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton, Donte DiVincenzo, Bobby Portis, or Jeff Teague, each one of these players have become integral for the success of this team, making for the Nets toughest opponent this season.

Though Durant nearly took down the Bucks single-handedly in a seven-game series last season, the dynamic of the Nets’ offense will significantly differ come this next postseason with the consistent presence of a healthy Irving and Harden in the mix, posing new challenges for the Nets against much better defensive teams like the Bucks.

With Harden and Irving lacking the defensive grit and resilience on the perimeter, interior defenders such as Durant, Claxton, Griffin, Millsap and Aldridge will constantly need to crash on driving guards while attempting to close out on drifting forwards in and outside of the paint in the process. That’s simply not easy for any defender to manage, and this concern makes for the biggest test towards this team’s ambitions.

Though the Nets could upend the Bucks’ playoff hopes in a six or seven-game series, the defending champions have tasted what it’s like to win a ring. And with the hunger for another championship run, along with all of the talent they bring to the table as is, the Nets’ greatest foe in the East is none other than the Milwaukee Bucks.

Brooklyn Nets V Milwaukee Bucks Game 5 ticket prices down with Kyrie Irving OUT

kyrie irving, brooklyn nets

The Brooklyn Nets are preparing to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 in Brooklyn on Tuesday evening, but star point guard Kyrie Irving will sit out with an ankle injury.

With the series tied at two apiece, Brooklyn will have to rely on  Kevin Durant to carry the load, a player who has proven his excellence over the past decade. Durant is more than capable of carrying the team in the absence of Irving and Harden, but any more injuries could stir a bit of trouble for a team that lost a two-win lead in the series over the weekend.

Reserve PGs, Mike James, and Tyler Johnson, will supplement the loss of Irving, with an expected healthy dose of Landry Shamet. Of course, losing a player like Irving, who averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists, and shot .506 from the field during the regular season is significant.

GET YOUR CHEAP GAME 5 TICKETS HERE!

Game 5 Ticketmaster pricing data:
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  • Tickets in the 100’s level start at $189.
  • Tickets in the lower level start at $256.
  • VIP Seats start at $818
  • Floor Seats start at $3,579

Non-vaccinated section ONLY AVAILABLE HERE!

The prices for the game have plummeted since the beginning of last week, dropping to below $80 for the 200 levels. To enjoy the game from the lower level, tickets start at $256, and VIP seats are under $1000.

The Brooklyn Nets enjoyed a dominant regular season, but the postseason offers a different beast

New York Knicks, Immanuel Quickley

The Brooklyn Nets have been smoking hot this year. Roaring to life this season and setting the league on fire with their explosive superstars, the Nets have flat-out dominated teams with their offensive fortitude and have not slowed down. Despite having one of the most inconsistent starting lineups throughout the season due to injuries, mid-season trades, and personal, off-court circumstances, the Nets still managed to somehow muster a stellar 48-24 record on the season, clinching second overall in the East to secure a big playoff berth.

But what remains to be so impressive about the success of this team is how it has been executed through not only their core big three but also from their various different role-players as well. To see returning superstar Kevin Durant average a deadly stat line of 26.9 ppg, with 6.7 rpg and 5.6 apg in 35 games played, from Kyrie Irving becoming only the 9th player in NBA history to achieve a ‘50/40/90’ shooting performance on the season, to Joe Harris who shot 50.5% from the field and 47.5% from 3-PT range in 69 games, to Jeff Green’s, Bruce Brown’s and Landry Shamet’s ability to do all the little things this team needs on the floor, the Nets found various ways to win throughout the entire season, using just about everyone on their roster to achieve that goal.

However, despite all the success this team has accomplished under first-year head coach Steve Nash, the biggest, lingering obstacle left for the Nets to hurdle, comes down to how they are able to translate their seasonal success into the playoffs. Playoff basketball is gritty and intense, where not only do you face some of the best teams and players in the NBA, but you face them 4-7 games straight per round, home and away. And that level of flawless basketball that teams need to produce in order to win becomes that much harder to execute on a daily basis, especially when up against strong defensive teams who know what to watch for and adjust to after playing their opponent a couple of times in a row.

Although the Nets have great experience and talent all over their team, there are three major factors they will need to surmount if they want a chance to make their first Finals appearance in 18 years. And considering the severity and magnitude of these hurdles, it seems unlikely that the Nets will be able to get past the Eastern Conference Finals and could potentially come up short in the Semifinals. Though the Nets have proven that nothing is impossible, overcoming all of these challenges in the playoffs is simply far too grand and difficult of a feat, even for a team that’s as strong as the Nets. Without further ado, here are the three major concerns the Nets face in the playoffs:

3. Lack Of Chemistry Between Big Three: Though injuries are hard to avoid, lack of chemistry is a presiding reality with the Nets big three that could prove to be very costly during the playoffs. Playing a total of eight games together during the regular season along with two playoff games under their belts so far, Durant, Irving, and James Harden have not played a whole lot together, which has hindered their ability to garner a resilient chemistry level between the three of them. This might not be so problematic for a big three-unit that has a greater role-playing presence than the Nets do. But because the Nets have three mega scorers and ball-possession-oriented superstars, the balance between the need to score and unselfish play amongst each other is vital for them to strengthen and maintain, which doesn’t seem realistic to achieve during such a small window of time. Naturally, this concern will only get better with more playing time together, particularly since starters tend to play significantly bigger minutes during the postseason as well. However, great chemistry is developed with time, and this big three has not gotten much of that. Just take a look at the Miami Heat when they assembled their big three; they played a lot more games together and still came up short in the Finals back in 2011. Same thing with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ big three prior to winning their first championship in 2016; they didn’t win their first title with their big three until a year after they all joined the same team. If none of these epic franchises could muster a title in their first seasons with their respective big threes, it’s hard to envision that being any different with the Nets this season.

2. Poor Defense: Quite frankly, this is debatably the biggest issue for the Nets. Outside of Durant, Harris, Green, Brown, and Nicholas Claxton, the Nets don’t have anyone else who really plays good perimeter or interior defense, and it showed all season. Finishing the year in 21st overall in points allowed with a hefty total of 114.1 per game, the Nets also allowed their opponents to shoot just about 46% from the field and over 35% from the 3-PT line (ESPN). Though DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin do provide decent support inside, playing behind guards like Irving and Harden is a very difficult task, considering how often both guards struggle with keeping their opponents in front of them. Achieving regular-season success with a defense as poor as this is one thing. But when it comes to the playoffs, more or less the Finals, defense is what wins games, and the Nets don’t have much to show for on that front. If they come across teams like the 76ers, the Bucks, and even the Hawks or Knicks, the Nets are going to have to figure out how they not only can outscore their opponents every night but, in the process, will have to do so against some of the best defenses and defensive players in the league. And even for a big three as good as this one, that’s a huge challenge and a lot of pressure to take on every time they step on the court.

1. Tough Eastern Conference Opponents: You would think this wouldn’t be a major concern for the Nets, considering they are the second overall seed in the Eastern Conference. But, believe it or not, the Nets have a handful of opponents that could thwart their run to the Finals. If all goes well against the Celtics, the Nets would be in line to face the winner of the Miami Heat/Milwaukee Bucks series. With Miami down 3-0, it appears that the Nets will be in line to face the Bucks, which is a very concerning matchup. Losing back-to-back games against Milwaukee towards the end of the season, the Bucks have an offense that is debatably just as good as the Nets and was number one in points per game this season (ESPN). In addition, they also have much better defensive players in guys like Giannis Antetokoumpo, Jrue Holiday, P.J. Tucker, Brook Lopez, and Khris Middleton. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If the Nets manage to get past the Bucks, there’s a very good chance they’ll be in line to face the 76ers, a nightmare matchup for any team. Possessing the deepest, most complete and well-rounded lineup in the NBA, the 76ers simply have it all. From an MVP candidate in Joel Embiid, to a defensive player of the year candidate in Ben Simmons, to then an outstanding two-way threat in Tobias Harris, along with 3-PT snipers in Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Furkan Korkmaz, the Nets really don’t have an answer against this team. If the Knicks or the Hawks perchance make it past the 76ers, the Nets will certainly have better odds to make their first Finals appearance. But even then, both the Hawks and Knicks bring the offensive skill and defensive fortitude to overthrow the Nets, presenting Brooklyn with a difficult finish either way.

In short, there’s a lot that has to go right for the Nets to make it to the Finals this year, more or less win their first title. With a chemistry level that lacks the essence of time and a defensive scheme that desperately needs toughness and better skill both inside and out, the Nets will have a hard time surpassing deeper and stouter teams within their own conference and certainly want to avoid a long series with both the Bucks and the 76ers. If they somehow survive against the Bucks and avoid the 76ers, the Nets potentially have a shot at making a Finals appearance. However, despite all their success this season, the magnitude of these core concerns are far too large and imposing for the Nets to fix during the stretch of the postseason. And an early exit in the playoffs seems inevitable.

Battle of New York: Knicks fans troll Nets for struggling to sell tickets

new york knicks, julius randle

Who runs New York?

It appears the Knicks still own the city despite the emergence of the star-studded Brooklyn Nets as a title contender.

The Knicks remain to be the biggest draw as their tickets sold like hotcakes on Wednesday. Knicks’ Game 1 tickets sold out in less than an hour. Fans who want to watch the Knicks’ Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday can find the cheapest tickets at Seat Geek, a secondary market, for as low as $217 and as high as $5,969 for first row seats.

Meanwhile, the Nets are struggling to sell tickets, with still a handful available at face value on Ticket Master.

Nets fans can still buy tickets for as low as $129 to as high as $529 for a lower bowl ticket at Ticket Master.

The Nets have already employed the help of one of their Big 3, James Harden, to draw fans to watch their home games in their first-round matchup against the Boston Celtics. Harden has offered a 50 percent discount on limited seats.

The Knicks fans quickly trolled the Nets with their sarcastic humor on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

The Nets have swept the Knicks this season though the last two games came down to the last possession. Unfortunately, they are on the opposite side of the Eastern Conference Playoffs bracket. Meaning, the only time they could face each other in the playoffs is at the conference finals.

A Knicks-Nets conference finals in the East could rival a Los Angeles Lakers-Clippers matchup in the West.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Should the Brooklyn Nets consider trading DeAndre Jordan as the trade deadline approaches?

Brooklyn Nets, DeAndre Jordan

The Brooklyn Nets are on fire right now. Currently coming off an eight-game winning streak, the Nets are playing at an extraordinarily dominant level that has led them all the way to second place in the East with a mere .5 game back from first (ESPN).

This success has been predicated on their offensive production, led by Brooklyn’s elite big three in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. Leading the NBA in points with 120.7 per game, the Nets have founded their success by overwhelming their opponents with offensive fortitude and finesse (ESPN). Just to give you an idea, Durant, Irving, and Joe Harris are all shooting over 50% on the season, producing a level of consistency that is hard to come by in the NBA (ESPN).

However, the Nets have 13 losses for a reason, and at the heart of that blemish is their defense. Defensively, the Nets rank 27th in the league in points per game and have allowed their opponents to shoot 46.9% from the field (ESPN). Their small ball approach is certainly to blame for this to an extent, but the core issue for the Nets defensively is their inability to produce any sort of interior defense and prevent teams from carving them up inside. Although Durant minimizes that when he’s on the floor, it still remains to be the greatest thorn in the side of this Nets team. And the biggest cause for this dilemma, is an out-of-his-prime DeAndre Jordan.

In all fairness, there’s only so much you can pin on Jordan, especially when he has stretch, power forwards in Durant, and Jeff Green alongside him who don’t dwell in the paint. But at the end of the day, Jordan is turning 33 this summer and is simply not the menacing center he used to be 7 years ago (ESPN). In addition, it appears that head coach Steve Nash will stick with this small ball approach, and as a result, Jordan would have to continue to handle most of the heavy lifting inside, which he’s struggled with throughout this season. And no matter how well the Nets are playing right now, they will need a much stronger interior presence in the paint if they want to reach the NBA Finals.

Essentially, this is why the Nets should look to trade Jordan and a couple of other players from their roster for another premier big man who could fulfill the role the Nets need so desperately inside. The trade deadline is on March 25th, so the Nets do have some time to work with. However, despite such, the Nets don’t have a vast variety of options to choose from and shouldn’t take too long to make their decision. And with the month of March just a few days away, it is of the utmost importance that the Nets target and trade for the best rebounding center in the NBA, in Andre Drummond.

Is this bold, far-fetched, and probably unrealistic, absolutely. But trading for Drummond would not only make for a near-perfect fit for this starting five but, above all, is a trade that could actually come to fruition; it’s just a matter of how forthcoming the Nets will choose to be when making the necessary sacrifices to execute it. You see, Drummond is in his prime, but at the same time, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a full-on rebuild project and will want a substantial amount of compensation in return. And since draft picks from the Nets won’t hold that much value, Brooklyn will need to offer a convincing trade package instead. Although they have a handful of different players to choose from, the best trade offer the Nets can pitch to the Cavaliers consists of the following:

 

Brooklyn Nets Send:

  1. DeAndre Jordan
  2. Spencer Dinwiddie
  3. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot

 

Cleveland Cavaliers Send:

  1. Andre Drummond

 

After already giving up Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and Taurean Prince, it might be difficult for some Nets fans to accept another major overhaul that would send three of their best role players to the Cavaliers. But believe it or not, this trade works out really well for both teams.

For starters, the Cavaliers already have two centers in Allen and JaVale McGee, so Jordan would potentially be passed along to another team the Cavaliers could trade him to. But outside of that, Cleveland would receive two good, young guards that would help reinforce a backcourt that doesn’t have a whole lot of depth behind Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. Dinwiddie is most likely out for the remainder of the season but is still in his prime and would uplift the Cavaliers backcourt significantly when healthy. On top of that, he has fantastic chemistry with Allen from their days together in Brooklyn, so bringing him to Cleveland would really improve their offensive cohesion. Luwawu-Cabarrot, on the other hand, is healthy and a rising talent the Cavaliers could benefit from having. Providing scrappy perimeter defense, solid rebounding, and a natural ability to score, Luwawu-Cabarrot is a bright, young prospect that the Cavaliers could really use off the bench.

In regards to the Nets side of the deal (outside of receiving Drummond), sending these three players is also quite helpful for the development and progress of this team and for the following reasons. First and foremost, after Harden arrived earlier this year, there’s just no room for the kind of role and minutes Dinwiddie would want and requires. At age 26, Dinwiddie is entering his prime, and there’s just no way he’s going to accept 20 minutes off the bench. Moreover, the Nets also have a lot of guards on their team, and although someone like Luwawu-Cabarrot brings great depth, there’s just no need to hold onto him when you have Bruce Brown, Landry Shamet, and Tyler Johnson already handling a large load of the guard duties off the bench. Although removing Jordan from their starting lineup might be a bit disruptive, bringing in the best rebounder in the league eradicates that void almost immediately.

At the end of it all, the Nets have done a lot to get their team on track, so it’s hard to predict if they will actually go forward with this trade proposal. But if they want to give this franchise a real chance at winning their first championship title, it’s in their best interest to trade for Andre Drummond.

Brooklyn Nets: Key observations after 3 games

Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn Nets may not be undefeated, but after going 2-1 in their first three regular-season games, Nets fans should be extremely excited about what they’ve seen thus far.  The first two games were a breeze. Their game on Sunday night against the Charlotte Hornets? Not so much. Let’s take a closer look at how the Brooklyn Nets have performed this early in the season and what they will need to do moving forward in order to win the East and potentially an NBA title.

The Good

In their first two games against Golden State and Boston, the Nets averaged 124 points while limiting their opponents to less than 100.  We can get into the offense in a minute, but their smothering defense allowed them to pull away in both games. Against Golden State, they held Steph to 7/21 from the field and held the Golden State Warriors to 30% from 3pt land and 37% from the field. The Nets shot 32 free throws compared to the Warriors 23, and the game was over by halftime. All 5 starters were a +20 or more, and the Kyrie (26 points) and KD (22 points) tandem on offense were virtually unstoppable. Caris came in and poured 20 off the bench, and every single player that saw the floor scored, with the exception of Tyler Johnson.

Against Boston, the story was much of the same. While the 1st half was much closer than the Golden State game, the Nets held Boston to just 23 points in the 3rd and 18 points in the 4th before pulling away in the 4th quarter. The Nets’ length on defense made life miserable for Jayson Tatum, who finished 9-22 from the field with 20 points. The only other two Celtics players in double figures were Jaylen Brown with 27 and Marcus Smart with 13. The Nets held the Celtics to 29% from three-point range. On offense, Kyrie and KD continued their dominance, scoring respectively 37 and 29. LeVert was the only other Net in double figures with 10, and Joe Harris finished with 9. The intensity and execution the Nets demonstrated from start to finish prompted an extremely complimentary quote from Marcus Smart, who said:

The Bad

Obviously, as talented as this Nets team is, nobody believed they would go 72-0. It was only a matter of time before they lost a game and truly showed us some of their flaws. Many just didn’t think it would come against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday night. From the jump, the Nets looked a step behind and lacked the intensity they played within the first two games. The Nets had 19 turnovers compared to the Hornets 12, lost in the rebounding category by 6, and failed to score more than 30 points in any quarter. The Hornets not only out-played the Nets, but they also out-hustled them, too, getting to almost every loose ball and grabbing 13 offensive boards. The Nets were unable to slow down Hayward, who led the Hornets with 28 points going 12-30 from the field, and P.J. Washington was a nightmare on the glass, grabbing 12 rebounds to go along with 14 points. Even Kyrie’s former teammate in Boston, Terry Rozier, finished with 19 points and a highlight-reel slam dunk over Kevin Durant.

Down 16 points in the 4th quarter, Brooklyn showed their resilience by cutting the deficit to just two points with less than 20 seconds remaining. Durant, who finished with 29 points, had a chance to tie the game off a baseline mid-range jumper over Biyombo, but much like the rest of the game, it didn’t go the Nets’ way and rimmed out. Kyrie poured in 25 points and 6 assists but had 4 turnovers as well. Joe Harris, who the Nets have gotten involved in the offense very early on in their first three games, finished with 13 points going 5-12 from the field and 3-7 from the three-point range. Brooklyn’s 2nd unit, led by Caris LeVert, who was a -12 on the court, was extremely disappointing in this one and let the Hornets take a commanding lead early in the 4th. To sum it up nicely, the Nets didn’t show up for this one.

The Unexpected

No professional sports season goes the exact way a team plans it will. Unforeseen events occur, and the coaches/GM/players make adjustments throughout a season. Heck, if you want a good example of this, just look at the NFC East in the NFL! The Brooklyn Nets are no different and are in the midst of seeing several unexpected events play out.

Easily the worst post-game news to come from their game against Charlotte was the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie. After going down in the 3rd quarter, it was announced shortly after the game that Dinwiddie had suffered a partially torn ACL in his right knee, requiring surgery, and he would be out the rest of the season. This is a huge blow for the Nets, as Dinwiddie had started each game this season as the #2 guard next to Kyrie, and it seemed as though he was started to play better in his new role.

With Dinwiddie getting hurt, that led to an opportunity for a Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot or “TLC,” who had been buried on the depth chart and hadn’t even received much time with the second unit. TLC got Dinwiddie’s minutes in the 4th quarter and was fantastic, playing great defense and going 4-4 from the field (3-3 from three-point range) and finishing with 11 points. If anything good could come out of this awful news regarding Dinwiddie’s knee, it is that TLC might be a guy Nash will want to give more minutes to, especially since Taurean Prince and Landry Shamet have both struggled mightily in the first three games.

Overall Summary

What we have learned so far:

-KD and Kyrie are BACK. There is not a better duo in the East than those two. They can each get to wherever they want on the court and complement each other’s games very nicely. On the last play of the Charlotte game, fans saw a Kyrie/KD pick and roll, resulting in KD’s miss to tie the game. That play may become deadly as the two become more familiar playing with one another.

-The Nets 2nd unit isn’t as dominant as we assumed it would be. LeVert has had 2 back-to-back mediocre games and needs to do a better job of leading the team when KD/Kyrie is not on the floor. Taurean Prince has been flat out awful, and Shamet has been disappointing. Jarrett Allen has been the most consistent player in the 2nd unit.

-When the Nets don’t play with urgency and focus on defense, they could be beaten by any team in this league.

-Head Coach Steve Nash has not quite mastered these rotations just yet

What we still don’t know:

-Who will start in Dinwiddie’s place; will it be Caris LeVert? Landry Shamet? Or did TLC earn the chance to start?

-Are the Nets still interested in trading for James Harden?

-Will Deandre Jordan eventually get demoted to the 2nd unit so Jarrett Allen can start?

-Will the Nets begin to rest KD and Kyrie soon to manage their playing time?

The Nets (2-1) play the Memphis Grizzlies (0-2) at home tonight at 7:30 pm EST. Kevin Durant will be sitting out this game.

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Brooklyn Nets: Breaking down the Nets Final Preseason Win against the Celtics

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

If you’re a follower of Brooklyn Nets news, then you have probably seen the video of Kyrie Irving burning sage prior to the Nets’ final preseason game against the Celtics last night. Irving explained after the game, his “smudging” was meant to cleanse the energy in the arena but to0 many Nets fans, it may have had a slightly different meaning; a fresh start. Not since the early 2000s have Nets, fans had a team with this much hype and excitement around them. With a healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, returning key contributors in Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen, and adding Landry Shamet and Jeff Green in the offseason to round out this roster, stakes could not be higher for the Brooklyn Nets as we approach the regular season.

Breaking Down the Nets Final Preseason Game

Kevin Durant Shows Out

While the first preseason game belonged to Kyrie, Durant stole the show against the Celtics last night, scoring 25 points on 9-16 from the field in 27 minutes of action. Whether it was the pull-up three, blowing by his defender for the dunk at the rim, or the un-guardable mid-range shot, Durant showed to everyone last night that he hasn’t lost a step. But elite offense wasn’t the only feature Durant showcased last night; he also led the Nets with 3 blocks, several of them coming at the rim. If this is the Kevin Durant Nets fans will get this season, barring any health setbacks, then there aren’t many teams in the East who can claim their #1 is better than Brooklyn’s.

Kyrie Continues to Lead

There have been several instances throughout the first two pre-season games where Kyrie Irving has shown his leadership among teammates. Yesterday, there were two specific scenarios. One came shortly after a Spencer Dinwiddie drive to the basket, of which there was contact with his defender but no call. This became a reoccurring theme for Dinwiddie throughout the night, as there were not many fouls called on his behalf. After a particularly physical drive, Dinwiddie was visually frustrated on the ground after not receiving the call, and an encouraging Kyrie Irving came over to him to pick him up. Seems subtle and small, but those are the types of actions that good teammates and leaders exhibit on a nightly basis.

The second moment came from Irving leading by example. After the Celtics went on a mini-run midway through the game, Tatum had just finished a sequence in which he had scored 5 straight points and rejected Spencer Dinwiddie on his drive to the rim. With the Nets only leading by 9, the smallest lead since the beginning of the game, Irving demanded the ball with Tatum covering him, immediately took him to the lane, and scored on a beautiful floater. You could feel the Celtics’ momentum vanish as the Nets would go on a scoring run of their own after that moment. These are the types of momentum swings that leaders like Kyrie and KD have to execute in order for the Nets to be dominant. Kyrie finished with 17 pts, 5 assists, and 7 rebs in 28 minutes.

Role Players who Impressed

There were several Nets outside of KD and Kyrie who performed exceptionally last night. Joe Harris had a huge “remember me guys?” moment early on in the game and finished with 14 points. Dinwiddie looked efficient with the starters, despite a 1-7 shooting night, picking his spots on when he should attack and when he should defer to the two stars on the team. And Jarrett Allen continued his excellent play in backing up Deandre Jordan (will return to shortly) with a stat line of 9 pts and 11 rebs. As for the two newcomers in Jeff Green and Landry Shamet, they have given Steve Nash some excellent minutes thus far. Shamet has looked sharp with the 2nd unit and moves well without the ball. Green, playing at the 5, has given the Nets a small-ball lineup with all 5 players on the court capable of hitting a three. TLC gave the Nets 11 solid minutes off the bench and has fought hard this preseason to crack this Nets rotation.

Preseason Summary & Remaining Roster questions

Obviously, the biggest story out of the Nets’ two preseason games has been how great Kyrie and KD have both looked. There needs to be something said about the fact that these guys complement each other’s games very nicely. KD can play with anybody, and Kyrie now feels he has an equal scoring counterpart on his team (sorry, Lebron). The supporting cast has looked exceptional, and Nash has done a great job of mixing and matching rotations in hopes of generating an optimal five players throughout the game. The Nets have dominated their opponents in both preseason games, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions about this team headed into the regular season.

For example, who will start at the center position, Deandre Jordan or Jarrett Allen? In two preseason games, Coach Nash has yet to insert Jarrett Allen into the starting lineup. Now, this is where many Nets fans have disagreed with Nash; anyone with eyes can see Allen has the ability to contribute much more than Jordan, both on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, the narrative is that because Jordan has a close-knit friendship with KD and Kyrie, he will continue to start over Allen. This is something that may change if the Nets go on a losing skid early on in the season.

Another question Nash will have to answer is who will start alongside Kyrie, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Caris LeVert? Yesterday, we saw Dinwiddie get the start, who seemed to mesh well with Kyrie and KD despite the off shooting night.  LeVert led the 2nd unit and eventually would get some time with KD and Kyrie in the 3rd. While it seemed as though Nash’s strategy worked as LeVert managed to score 18 points in 21 minutes, the Nets are still unsure on who will start and who will come off the bench between the two.

Thanks for reading this article! Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your latest Brooklyn Nets news and listen to the Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick podcast!

Brooklyn Nets: Projecting Steve Nash’s starting 5 for the 2021 season

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

This next season for the Brooklyn Nets marks a very special, inaugural chapter for this franchise.  With their last NBA Finals appearance dating all the way back to the 2002-03 season, the Nets have been longing not only for a chance to reach the NBA Finals once again but to finally get the chance to win their very first NBA title. Since 2003, the Nets have embarked on an up and down, rollercoaster ride of success, clinching a playoff berth in 9 of their last 17 seasons but repeatedly coming up short, be it in the semifinals or in the 1st round.  As was expected at some point in time, desperation and hunger reached its climaxing point and the Nets, in a blink of an eye, sealed two of the biggest superstars this game has seen in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

After being a mere 8th or 7th seeded team at best, the Nets all of a sudden have transformed into a title contender in the Eastern Conference along with the Bucks, the Celtics, the Heat, and the Raptors.  With tough injuries causing a season-long setback for their newly acquired superstars, the time has finally come on December 22nd for Durant and Irving to combine their talents and prove to Nets fans why the wait and investment was well worth it.

But on top of all of this, the Nets also chose to hire a new head coach to guide this new superstar team, selecting none other than the former MVP point guard Steve Nash.  His impact and influence will certainly make for an intriguing sight to behold, considering how wise and knowledgeable he is.  But with no experience as a head coach and joining a brand-new team of players he’s yet to work with, presents a challenge that bears a lot of uncertainty.  At the root of this insecurity lies one major factor: It’s easy enough to insert Durant and Irving into your starting lineup and call it a day.  But the ultimate test for Nash is who he decides to start around these two superstars that will complement their style of play in order for this team to succeed.  And with less than a week away before the season starts, Nash will have to decide which starting five grants the Nets the best chance to go the distance.  Without further ado, here’s the best starting five the Brooklyn Nets should stick with this season:

Point GuardKyrie Irving: Although Spencer Dinwiddie really highlighted just how special and good of a fit he is for this team, you’re simply not going to drop over $30 million on a player just to have him come off the bench. In other words, Kyrie was brought in for a reason as he is one of the most gifted offensive talents in this league and brings an array of invaluable skills that are hard to come by. The only concern for Kyrie really comes down to his ability to spread the wealth and orient his decision making around winning games, not dropping 50 points in each of them. Essentially, Kyrie needs to prove that he can be unselfish and realize that in order to run the best version of this offense, he needs to embrace the talent he has around him and execute the best plays the team needs to make in order to win games. Besides that, Irving is most certainly a lock for the starting point guard position and deservedly so.

Shooting Guard Joe Harris: ESPN has Joe Harris starting at the three for their depth chart, presenting a small ball lineup that, frankly, is not designed to succeed down the stretch.  If you want to win, it’s wise to start Harris at shooting guard, and for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost, Harris is a remarkable three-point shooter and a strong perimeter defender, a role that fits best for the guard position.  Secondly, with two monstrous scorers in the starting lineup already, there’s no need to cause ball sharing problems by inserting another scoring oriented player in Caris LeVert.  In any sport, it’s vital that you cater players to their strengths, not to their weaknesses.  And asking LeVert to limit his scoring and essentially his best skill by having him start is unwise.  Ultimately, the difference between starting Harris over LeVert, is that Harris compliments the superstar players he has around him very well, whereas LeVert does not.  Finding the right mold and balance for a team is a must when aiming for a Finals appearance, and Harris brings just that at the shooting guard position.

Small Forward – Kevin Durant: This is pretty straightforward and clear cut. He’s the best scorer, can virtually attack a defense from anywhere on the floor, and is a very strong defender both inside and out.  ESPN has him starting at the four, which can work for some teams the Nets face this year.  But it’s best if Durant starts at the position he’s owned since day one.  Although they’re very different players, starting Kevin Durant at the four is kind of like starting LeBron James at the four. You can do it, but considering what kind of players these superstars are, they need the full range of the floor and complete access of their skillset to be able to dictate the pace and win games.  It’s of vital importance to refrain from stifling Durant’s play, and the best way to do that is to play a bigger lineup and have him start at the three.

Power Forward – Reggie Perry: As crazy as it sounds, Reggie Perry is the best fit for the starting power forward role on this team. This rookie out of Mississippi State was not only made for his position but, simply put, was built for the NBA. To give you an idea of how dominant he was in college, Perry averaged a double-double and then some in his final season with Mississippi State. Putting up 17.4 ppg, along with 10.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, and over a block per game, Perry also shot 50% from the field and over 32% from the 3-point line. The Nets needed another big man to not only help Jarrett Allen in the paint with rebounding and interior defense but also desperately required a boost of inside scoring as well, and Perry fills both of those voids.  Even if Nash only chooses to play him for 20-25 minutes per game, his style of play really complements his new teammates and if you need more convincing, just take a look at his first preseason game against the Wizards; Perry had 5 points, 7 rebounds and a block in only 16 minutes (ESPN).  The only concern with Perry is lack of experience.  But even then, for someone as athletically versatile as he is, Perry should be the Nets’ starting power forward.

Center – Jarrett Allen: For those of you thinking it should be DeAndre Jordan, please think again. The Fro Show is entering his fourth season with the Nets and, at the age of 22, is just beginning to enter his prime (ESPN). Along with the fact that he’s been the anchor of their interior defense and rebounding over the last two seasons, Allen’s chemistry, growth, and role with this team is simply irreplaceable. Think about it this way: Considering the Nets operated a small ball lineup where Allen was frequently isolated in the paint, taking all the big man attention whilst doing so, he somehow still managed to get better at rebounding and scoring. Posting his best numbers to date last season, Allen averaged 11.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, and shot a stellar 65% from the field (ESPN).  And now, with the arrival of Perry and Durant, Allen is only going to get more space down below, which will enable him to come into his own and seize his full potential.  At the end of it all, Allen does all the little things you need from a big man.  And for a team that’s filled with scorers and guards, he makes for a near-perfect fit as the Nets’ starting center.

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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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.