October 27, 2020

Caris LeVert leads all scorers with 27 points and scores his first triple-double

Last night, the San Antonio Spurs lost their spurs and therefore, their direction and were never able to steer themselves to be competitive and thus, lost to the Brooklyn Nets 139-120. The Nets’ 139 points were a season-high. With the win, the Brooklyn Nets improved to 28-34 with their wire-to-wire victory, while the Spurs fell to 26-35 on the season.

By The Numbers:

Brooklyn had eight players score in double figures matching a season-high for Nets in double figures and this wasn’t the first time. The most recent was achieved at the Charlotte Hornets on February 22, 2020.

• Field Goals: Nets – 53.1 percent (51-of-96) versus Spurs - 46.7 percent (43-of-92)
• Behind the Arc: Nets 41.7 (15-of-36) versus Spurs 29.4 percent (10-of-34)
• Free Throws: 71 percent (22-of-31) versus 88.9 (24-of-27)

Additionally, the Nets outrebounded the Spurs 52-38 (+14) and edged San Antonio 32-25 (+7) in assists.

The Nets led the Spurs 41-22 at the end of the first quarter

Brooklyn led San Antonio 75-54 at halftime and 75 points marked the most points the Nets have scored in a half in Barclays Center history (since 2012-13).

During the third quarter, the Nets scored 45 points setting a new franchise record for points scored in the third quarter, and 120-95 through three quarters, marking a franchise record through three quarters.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson

How did Coach Kenny Atkinson compare the Brooklyn Nets’ performance last night against the Spurs versus the Grizzlies on Wednesday night?

“Energy was great,” Coach Atkinson said. “Compete level was great. Togetherness was great. You know how it is, there’s no easy games in this league. Especially the Spurs, Pop (Gregg Popovich), all that, so I give real credit to our guys. It was our energy level, our compete level. Obviously, we rebounded better than our last game. Our spirit was better. It was like the opposite of the other night. I wish I could give you an explanation why that happens.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Caris LeVert, what can you say, he is playing like an NBA all-star! LeVert recorded his first career triple-double against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night with a game-high 27 points, a season-high 11 rebounds, and a season-high 10 assists in 31 minutes. Joe Harris scored 20 points (9-of-14 FG, 2-of-4 3FG) with four rebounds in 26 minutes against the Spurs; Spencer Dinwiddie added 19 points and nine assists in 26 minutes; Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot also scored 19 points, his second-most points scored in a game this season, shooting 5-of-7 from the field, 3-of-5 from distance and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line; DeAndre Jordan recorded his 10th double-double off the bench this season with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes; Chris Chiozza added 13 points (5-of-9 FG, 3-of-5 3FG) with six rebounds, and three assists in 22 minutes; Taurean Prince posted 13 points and five rebounds off the bench, and; Jarrett Allen chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds.

San Antonio Spurs Scoring Leaders

DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 24 points, nine assists, and five rebounds in 31 minutes for the San Antonio Spurs; both Trey Lyles and Derrick White each scored 19 points for the Spurs in 23 and 27 minutes respectively; Rudy Gay posted 15 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes, and; Keldon Johnson dropped 13 points and five rebounds.

What happened to San Antonio’s defense?

Coach Speak: Gregg Popovich, Head Coach, San Antonio Spurs

“It was embarrassing defense, soft,” said Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs. “I thought the guys we put in in the fourth quarter played with more physicality and more attitude than anybody else did all night long. Brooklyn took their starters out with five minutes to go and we actually outscored them and kept them to 10 or 12 points. Our starting group was really soft defensively. That’s pretty much been tough most of the year. So, if another team starts and helps us by not making shots then the defense doesn’t look as bad. If they’re scoring like the Nets did tonight – then you see the hole we get into and we get into that hole quite often. But I thought those kids in the fourth quarter did a great job of guarding, keeping people in front of them and playing with some physicality.”

Up Next for the San Antonio Spurs and the Brooklyn Nets

So, what’s next for the San Antonio Spurs?

The Spurs will travel to Cleveland to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Chicago Bulls at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on also Sunday, March 8, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. ET.

TIP-INS:

o Caris LeVert is the 27th player in Brooklyn Nets history to register a triple-double and the third player to do so as a Brooklyn Net, joining Kyrie Irving and D'Angelo Russell. He also registered his fourth-career double-double and his second-career points/rebounds double-double on Friday, March 6, 2020.

Caris LeVert reached the 20-point mark for the 13th time this season on Friday, March 6, 2020, and the ninth time in his last 15 games (since the beginning of February). He totaled 20+ points five times in his first 22 games this season.

Bittersweet: Chris Chiozza scored in double figures for the first time in his NBA career last night in the Brooklyn Nets’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies

What a difference a day makes.

On Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets pulled off an upset against the 41-18 Boston Celtics. The Nets, a 7th-seed Eastern Conference team, defeated the Celtics, a 3rd seed Eastern Conference team, 129-120 in overtime behind Caris LeVert’s 51 points, rendering the Celtics’ win-loss record to 41-19.

And, what a difference a day makes. No need to cry for the Celtics, like the Nets, they played a back-to-back last night and defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-106. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets were blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies 118-79. This is the difference between elite NBA teams and the not-so-elite teams, among many things, their ability to bounce back. With the loss to the Grizzlies last night, the Nets fell to 27-34 and the Grizzlies improved to 31-31.

By The Numbers:

Let’s just say, the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Brooklyn Nets on every metric that matters:

Field Goals: Grizzlies - 43 percent (43-of-100) versus Nets - 33.3 percent (30-of-90)
Behind the Arc: Grizzlies 45.5 (20-of-44) versus Nets 16.7 percent (7-of-42)
Free Throws: 85.7 (12-of-14) versus 70.6 (12-of-17)

The Memphis Grizzlies even outrebounded the Brooklyn Nets 59-42, as well as, on assists 21-15; steals 8-6, and blocked shots 5-4.

So, what does a head coach say when a team is blown out in this fashion?

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson

“These are the type of games where, you know – 40-point losses, believe it or not, happen in this league,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “But I think collectively we didn’t like our compete level and our spirit wasn’t where it needed to be. And we talked about it in the locker room. Coaches and players having a good old-fashioned great communication. Like I always say, these are the moments where you really have to embrace the adversity. We’re obviously disappointed and frustrated that we couldn’t build off of a great win. We’re definitely frustrated with that.”

And, what was the most disappointing aspect of Coach Atkinson’s team’s performance?

“That our energy wasn’t there,” Coach Atkinson continued. “I don’t know if it was mental spirit, whatever that, you know, we’re playing for something. Like I said, we came off of a really good win last night. We didn’t build on that. I didn’t feel that we had our, I keep saying the word, but our spirit in the right place and that’s disappointing. The crowd let us know about it and I think they are 100 percent right. I think that you feel it when it’s not there. So, we have a great group of guys, I think fatigue plays something in a back-to-back. Guys were a little frustrated we got down, we were missing shots, but we didn’t have that fighting spirit that we normally do.”

 

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Brooklyn Nets forward Taurean Prince led Brooklyn with 15 points and added five rebounds in 25 minutes last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, scoring in double figures in six of his last seven games. Caris LeVert, after scoring 51 points the night before, totaled 14 points, four rebounds, and a game-high-tying six assists in 27 minutes; Chris Chiozza scored a career-high 14 points (5-of-8 FG, 2-of-4 3FG, 2-of-2 FT) and three rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench, and; Joe Harris tallied 13 points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes against the Grizzlies.

Some reporters were a little concerned that Spencer Dinwiddie hasn’t had a high offensive output as of late, including only scoring four points against the Memphis Grizzlies last night.

“That’s the thing,” said Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. “I’ve seen people kind of talk about my offensive output in Boston, I mean I had 14 and four in like 20 minutes. Not bad guys, that’s not bad. Granted – don’t get me wrong – Boston should be all about Caris (LeVert), he had 51 and the crazy comeback win. But the stigma of like ‘Spencer (Dinwiddie) played bad in Boston’ is not quite accurate. Tonight is a totally different story. But you know, played all 61 games we had. I’m sorry. Deeply Nets fans, I’m sorry.”

Memphis Grizzlies Scoring Leaders

For the Memphis Grizzlies, its top two scorers were from its second unit, Josh Jackson and Tyus Jones.

Jackson came off the bench and scored 19 points and two steals in 17 minutes, and Jones recorded 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds in 21 minutes. Among the Grizzlies’ starters, Ja Morant recorded 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in 29 minutes; Kyle Matthews tallied 12 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes, and Dillion Brooks chipped in 12 points in 22 minutes.

While Jonas Valanciunas may have missed being a scoring leader with only nine points, he more than made up for it with a game-high 16 rebounds.

Coach Speak: Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins

“Another great win for our guys back-to-back,” said Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins. “Just really proud of the defensive activity. Didn’t have like we did against Atlanta in that first half, but our guys just turned it on in that third and fourth quarter. We just really clamped down, our ability to get out and scramble. Obviously, the Nets still end up shooting a lot of threes. They were highly contested. Our guys were flying around. Much better job in the second half keeping Brooklyn off of the boards, which allowed us to get out and run. Just great contributions throughout the entire rotation – the starters, but obviously the bench has been huge for us. Two nights in a row, the 3-point shooting, the defensive activity, the rebounding, the steals, the blocks, just the general unselfishness. So very proud of the guys. Great win for us tonight. Just have to keep focus of the daily task at hand – one day at a time.”

Up Next for the Memphis Grizzlies and the Brooklyn Nets

The Memphis Grizzlies will travel to Dallas to play the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, March 6, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will remain at home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, to take on the San Antonio Spurs also on Friday, March 6, 2020, at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Brooklyn Nets two-way guard, Chris Chiozza, scored in double figures for the first time in his NBA career last night after totaling a then-career-high-tying eight points on Tuesday night in Boston. In his last two contests, Chiozza has averaged 11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in 22.5 minutes per game while shooting .615 (8-of-13) from the field, .571 (4-of-7) from 3-point range and 1.000 (2-of-2) from the free-throw line.

Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris made three 3-pointers last night against the Memphis Grizzlies. Harris has now made at least one three in 51 straight games dating back to November 12, 2019, at Utah. Harris’ three-point shooting streak marks the second-longest streak in Nets history behind D’Angelo Russell’s 61-game streak last season.

Harris has also made at least one three in all 30 of Brooklyn’s home games this season.

Caris LeVert led all scorers with 23 points; D’Angelo Russell’s return to the Barclays Center celebrated with an in-arena video tribute

Last night at the Barclays Center, thousands of fans were excited to see the Golden State Warriors on the court. Not to get a Stephen Curry sighting, but to see and welcome back, former Brooklyn Nets player, D’Angelo Russell, who helped to lead the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs last season. The Nets organization also gave thanks to former Brooklyn Nets point guard, D’Angelo Russell, via an in-arena video tribute for his contributions to helping lead the team to the NBA Playoffs last season.

So, what was it like for former teammates to play against one of its former leading scorers?

“Honestly, it was a little weird,” said Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert about competing against his former teammate for the first time since Russell was traded to the Golden State Warriors. “I’ve never played against him before. In my first year, I was injured with my foot, and, obviously, the second year he came here. So, it was a little different, but it was good competing against him for sure.”

As one might assume, preparing for D’Angelo Russell was also part of the coaching strategy.

“Yeah, I do think it helps knowing him, definitely, and knowing how good he is”, said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “Obviously, we made a concerted effort to limit his touches. He was 5-for-8 from mid-range in the first half, just so everybody understands that the analytics doesn’t always work out. I don’t know what he was from mid-range in the second half, I would be curious to see, but (a) heck of a player – glad we slowed him down a little. But definitely an advantage when you know a guy.”

Other Factors That Helped the Brooklyn Nets

With no Stephen Curry, the Brooklyn Nets were fired up and ready to take advantage of that particular Golden State weakness. Then the mood of the Golden State Warriors team went south when they learned how the Warriors’ were affected by the looming NBA trade deadline. The Warriors’ management held out Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks as trade chips. Consequently, the respected veteran players did not dress for last night’s game, which affected the Warriors’ game plan and psyche.

Coach Speak: Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr on his team’s mood after learning about the looming trade deal

“It was a tough night to go out and play,” Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told the media postgame. “Two of our leaders, elder statesmen, guys who are really beloved in the locker room – for the team to find out that those two guys are most likely going to be traded was pretty tough. We all just found out prior to the game. There’s not a really good way to prepare for a game when something like that happens, and I think it showed. Brooklyn played great, and I give them a lot of credit. I thought they were fantastic. We were definitely affected by the circumstances, and we took it on the chin.”

With the 129-88 wire-to-wire victory over the Golden State Warriors last night, the Brooklyn Nets improved to 23-27 on the season, while the Warriors fell to 12-40 with the loss.

How the Brooklyn Nets Won By The Numbers:

So, how did the Brooklyn Nets defeat the Golden State Warriors by the numbers?

The Brooklyn Nets led by as many as 44 points last night, which marked the Nets’ largest lead in any game this season.

The Nets held the Warriors to .128 (5-of-39) from 3-point range last night, which marked the lowest 3-point field goal percentage for a Nets opponent in a game.

The Brooklyn Nets shot 51 percent (51-of-100) from the field versus the Golden State Warriors’ 36.5 percent (35-of-96)

The Nets outscored the Warriors 68-38 (+30) in points in the paint.

The Nets also shot 41.2 percent (14-of-34) from 3-point range against the Warriors’ 12.8 percent (5-of-39).

The Nets bested the Warriors at the stripe, hitting 13 of 15 (86.7 percent) of their free throws compared to the Warriors’ 13 of 18 (72.2 percent).

Brooklyn edged Golden State 65-34 on rebounding and 29-20 in assists.

Brooklyn led Golden State 40-25 at the end of the first quarter, the most Brooklyn has tallied in a first quarter this season; 68-47 at halftime, and going into the fourth quarter, the Nets led the Warriors 95-64.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on his team’s defensive strategy

“Obviously we knew taking D’Lo (D’Angelo Russell), try to bring his percentages down, that was the game plan – first part of the game plan – and limiting Draymond’s (Green) effect on the game with his passing. And mission accomplished. I like how our young guys finished it, you know, finished the game. They showed real progress. All around good defensive effort.”

Brooklyn Nets Scoring Leaders

Against the Golden State Warriors last night, Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert led all scorers; LeVert scored 23 points, a season-high eight assists, along with four rebounds in 27 minutes. Joe Harris totaled 17 points and a season-high-tying nine rebounds in 22 minutes; Garrett Temple recorded 16 points (7-of-11 FG) with two rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes off the bench, and; both Taurean Prince and Rodions Kurucs each scored 12 points. In his 20 minutes on the floor, Prince added six rebounds to his scoring total, and Kurucs in his 27 minutes of play off the bench, added five rebounds to his total points. Meanwhile, DeAndre Jordan, also part of the second unit last night, posted 10 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

“I think everybody was locked in in terms of what the game plan was, knowing the personnel, knowing who we were shifting off of, knowing who we were staying attached to, trying to take away,” said Brooklyn Nets forward Joe Harris about using last night’s performance as a blueprint for defensive efforts going forward. “I thought we did a good job just contesting everything too, even if we were in rotations or scrambling, it seems like guys were always getting in to contest. They didn’t have a lot of just clean, open looks. But then a little bit of that I think can be attributed to what I just mentioned, the fact that they are kind of going through sort of an unfortunate time.”

Golden State Warriors Scoring Leaders

For the Golden State Warriors, guard D’Angelo Russell had the hot hand. Russell scored 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 33 minutes; guard Jordan Poole, came off the bench and contributed 16 points, four assists, and three steals in 27 minutes; Eric Paschall posted 15 points and five rebounds; and Kevon Looney registered 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists off the bench in 18 minutes.

Coach Speak: Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson on upcoming games against elite teams

“Golden State, I thought, played really well the last three games and this game really worried me, so taking care of business was important,” said Coach Atkinson. “Now we look forward to playing two elite teams in the next three games, and it will be a good test to see where we are. But we know we are going to need our physicality and athleticism to play against those two teams. So, good test coming up for us.”

What’s Next for the Golden State Warriors and the Brooklyn Nets?

The Brooklyn Nets will travel to Toronto to play the Toronto Raptors this Saturday, February 8, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Then the Nets will travel to Indiana to play the Indiana Pacers on Monday, February 10, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. ET, and then will travel home to meet up with the Toronto Raptors again on Wednesday, February 12, 2020, at 7:30 p.m., at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The Golden State Warriors also have a tough road ahead, they return home to host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. PT.

TIP-INS:

o Caris LeVert has recorded 20+ points in each of his last two games (both starts), doing so in consecutive games for the first time since November 2, 2018, through November 6, 2018 (three straight games). LeVert has averaged 26.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists in 29.4 minutes per game in his last two while shooting .450 (18-of-40) from the field and .556 (5-of-9) from 3-point range.

o In his last three games, Joe Harris is averaging 18.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 26.7 minutes per game while shooting .537 (22-of-41) from the field and .500 (10-of-20) from distance.

o Last night’s win snapped Brooklyn’s eight-game losing streak against Golden State, which had marked the Nets’ longest active losing streak against any opponent. Prior to last night’s victory, the Nets’ last win against the Warriors came on March 2, 2015, at the Barclays Center.

 
 

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired forward Kevin Durant, along with a protected 2020 first round draft pick, from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for guards D’Angelo Russell and Shabazz Napier and forward Treveon Graham.

“Kevin is a champion, perennial All-Star and one of the great players of this, or any, generation,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “Adding a player of Kevin’s caliber to our organization elevates our ability to compete with the elite teams in this league. His tremendous abilities and dedication to his craft have made him as talented an offensive player our game has ever seen and we, as well as all of Brooklyn, are thrilled to welcome Kevin and his family to the Nets.

“We would also like to thank D’Angelo for all he has done for the Nets over the past two seasons. He was an integral part of the team’s growth and served as a tremendous representative of the Nets and Brooklyn. We wish him, Shabazz, and Treveon nothing but the best in the years ahead.”

“Along with the rest of the league, our coaching staff has long admired Kevin’s incredible skill, resilience, and tenacity,” said Nets Head Coach Kenny Atkinson. “He has already established himself as a champion and one of the best players of all-time, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome him into our program in Brooklyn.”

A nine-time All-NBA selection (six First Team, three Second Team), Durant (6’9, 240) joins the Nets after spending the previous three seasons with the Golden State Warriors. During that time, Durant won two NBA championships (2017, 2018) and was named NBA Finals MVP twice, becoming just the sixth player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive years. As a Warrior, he helped lead Golden State to a regular season record of 182-64 (.740). Durant has been named an All-Star in each of the last 10 seasons (2010-19) and earned the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2014 with Oklahoma City after averaging a single-season career-high 32.0 points (50.3 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from 3-point range, 87.3 percent from the free-throw line), 7.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 38.5 minutes per game. In 849 career games (all starts), Durant has registered averages of 27.0 points (49.3 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from 3-point range, 88.3 percent from the free-throw line), 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in 36.9 minutes per contest. He has also appeared in 139 career playoff games (all starts) over nine postseason appearances with Oklahoma City (six) and Golden State (three), posting playoff averages of 29.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks in 40.3 minutes per game. In addition to two titles and three NBA Finals appearances in Durant’s three seasons in Golden State, the 30-year-old forward has led his team to at least the Western Conference Finals in seven of his last nine seasons.

Durant ranks third among active players in points (22,940) and has averaged at least 25.0 points per game in each of the last 11 seasons, garnering four NBA scoring titles (2009-12, 2013-14). He also ranks 10th all-time on the NBA’s career playoff points list (4,043) and is second in the category among active players. The Washington, D.C., native has represented the United States twice at the Olympics, earning gold medals in 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Durant has also been honored for his off-the-court endeavors and received the 2017-18 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his outstanding efforts in the community and his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work. Originally selected with the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, Durant earned Rookie of the Year honors after averaging 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and, 1.0 steals in 34.6 minutes per game in 80 games during the 2007-08 campaign. Prior to beginning his NBA career, he spent one year at the University of Texas, averaging 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game en route to the unanimous national player of the year honors.

Russell was originally acquired by the Nets in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers on June 22, 2017. He became a first-time All-Star in 2018-19, averaging 21.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and, 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per contest through 81 games (all starts). In 129 games (116 starts) over two seasons (2017-19) in Brooklyn, Russell recorded averages of 19.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and,1.1 steals in 28.5 minutes per game. Through four NBA seasons split between the Nets and Lakers (2015-17), Russell has averaged 16.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in 28.5 minutes per game in 272 games (224 starts).

Napier originally signed as a free agent with the Nets on July 17, 2018. He appeared in 56 games during the 2018-19 season, registering averages of 9.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 17.6 minutes per contest. In 289 career games with Miami (2014-15), Orlando (2015-16), Portland (2016-18) and Brooklyn, Napier has posted averages of 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 16.1 minutes per game.

Graham originally signed as a free agent with the Nets on July 30, 2018. He appeared in 35 games (21 starts) during the 2018-19 campaign, recording averages of 5.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and, 1.0 assists in 20.4 minutes per game. In 125 career games with Charlotte (2016-18) and Brooklyn (2018-19), Graham has posted averages of 4.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.6 minutes per contest.

Nets win 2019 NBA Free Agency with the acquisition of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan; lose D'Angelo Russell, Ed Davis, and other players

The Brooklyn Nets have been struggling to obtain top-tier NBA players in what seems like forever, and shortly after 6:00 p.m. on June 30, 2019, as soon as the NBA Free Agency period opened, it was as if the Brooklyn Nets hit the lotto. For months, not only did New York City sports talk radio hype Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant going to the New York Knicks during free agency, but their national brethren also chimed in. So, when the news broke that the Brooklyn Nets signed Irving and Durant, radio personalities became punching bags and psychologists depending on the caller. Nets fans came out of the woodwork to express their joy and apprehension. Most were concerned about Durant’s Achilles injury. Some felt a little bit of trepidation about the age Durant will be when he can finally play again, losing D’Angelo Russell, and whether Irving is capable of leading. All are legitimate concerns. But when one looks at the landscape of top-tier NBA players who were free agents, it would have been malpractice for the Nets not to try to sign them. There are also reports that DeAndre Jordan will sign a four-year, $40M deal with the Nets and that Durant and Irving will both take less than the max so DeAndre Jordan can receive $40M. Jordan can also be a help to Nets center, Jarrett Allen, who is going into his third season with the team.

In the last decade, Nets fans have been on a roller coaster ride. They have watched the Nets move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. They were there when Nets management tried to reel in LeBron James, and then later, Dwight Howard in his last year with the Orlando Magic. And, no one can forget the Nets trade with the Boston Celtics for the Big 3: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. It was at that introductory press conference presenting the Big 3 that Brooklyn Nets principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov talked about being a championship contender.

 

At the time, most reporters expressed publicly and privately that Billy King did one heck of a great sales job. And, some even laughed, particularly as the Nets’ fortunes started sinking. Truthfully, it was no laughing matter. No business-minded person wants to see red ink on a balance sheet. And to a large extent, during that time, Brooklyn’s economy was tied to the Barclays Center’s profitability. Fortunately, Prokhorov moved quickly and changed the management of the Brooklyn Nets and replaced King with Sean Marks, who brought in Kenny Atkinson, who has a reputation for bringing out the best in players, particularly point guards, as the head coach to replace Lionel Hollins. Prokhorov also did one other thing to help Marks and Atkinson, he gave them the breathing room to right the sinking ship.

Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson 750x422Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks (l) and Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson

Nets fans already see big things in store for their team. Some are talking rings and others, see this team to be the next Eastern Conference Champions, particularly if Kawhi Leonard leaves the Toronto Raptors. If the Nets with this new composition of players get to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, this season, it will be considered a smashing success considering the Nets’ history. If it should win the East, and that is a big if, well let’s just say the City of New York will have to close down Flatbush Avenue because there will be dancing in the streets. And, some New Yorkers, because we are a bold bunch, may hold a simultaneous street party in front of Madison Square Garden.

The real NBA Basketball rivalry in New York City starts now.

Best Playoff Atmosphere ever for Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center; Nets played with urgency, but lack of experience got in the Way of Nets Advancement

Just like the Philadelphia 76ers last season was a young and inexperienced team and couldn’t advance as far as they would have liked in the NBA Playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets are finding themselves in a similar predicament. The Nets took Game 1 of this first-round NBA Playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers and lost Games 2, 3, and 4. This is not uncharacteristic for a young NBA team. They made a ton of mistakes like other young teams primarily because of lack of experience. Yesterday, the lack of experience was glaring. The Nets played 3.5 quarters in stellar fashion and looked like they were on the brink of tying the series by winning Game 4. We should be going to Philadelphia with a 2-2 series. However, between 4:11 and 2:09 of the fourth quarter, the Nets turned the ball over four times and the Sixers took advantage of those mistakes, just like the Boston Celtics took advantage of the Philadelphia 76er’s mistakes last season.

Similarly, if the Nets can’t win Game 5 in Philadelphia, it will be a wrap for them this season, but not a lost season. In the last two seasons, the Nets only managed to win 20 and 27 games. This season, the Nets won 42 games and made it to the playoffs and for all tense and purposes did not get swept. The Brooklyn Nets were able to accomplish this feat because the new management under Sean Marks is focused on player development and culture, and to a man, the team is all in. And, Sean Marks has been able to do this with no top draft picks and a first-time coach in Kenny Atkinson. The Nets have taken in guys who many considered to be castaways and because of the culture surrounding the Nets, they have managed to shine quickly.

Last season, Spencer Dinwiddie was selected to participate in the NBA All-Star Skills Challenge. This season, Joe Harris beat out Stephen Curry and won the NBA All-Star 3-Point Shooting Contest, and D’Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was cast out of the Los Angeles Lakers by Magic Johnson in 2017. This season, Russell participated in the NBA All-Star Game 2019 and lately is the talk of the “NBA Town” and looked upon by some as the leader of the Nets team. As the regular NBA season was winding down and Russell was tearing up the scoreboard, the “Brooklyn Brigade/Block” consistently chanted, “Thank You, Magic.”

At the end of the day, the Nets should not feel ashamed about this season. It’s their lack of experience, not heart, that is putting them behind the eight ball.

At the end of yesterday’s playoff game against Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson summed up the outcome: “I think a little bit of our experience, (a) little bit of their length and activity. I think it’s one of their strengths and I thought we got a little out of sorts, had a few turnovers that we didn’t need. We also had a bunch of good looks. I thought we had a bunch of good looks, and they didn’t go down.”

So, what did yesterday’s box score tell us about the Brooklyn Nets top scorers?

Caris LeVert, who was among the Nets starting five in Game 4, scored a team-high 25 points with five rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists and a steal in 42 minutes. D’Angelo Russell posted 21 points, seven rebounds, a team-high-tying six assists, two steals and a block in 37 minutes. Jarrett Allen also recorded 21 points and added a team-high eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals in 32 minutes to his point total. A good game for Allen by the numbers; he recorded his fifth-career game of 20+ points and his first in the postseason. He also turns 21 today. Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 18 points (7-of-12 FG) with four rebounds and a steal in 27 minutes off the bench. Joe Harris, who is usually the Nets best 3-point shooter was 0-for-6 from the 3-point line but chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

How are Nets players feeling about last night’s game, going back to Philadelphia for Game 5, and down 3-1?

“There’s a disappointment losing any game – whether it be home or on the road – especially, when you’re up, five minutes left to go in the game,” Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert responded. “That’s disappointing in itself. But obviously, with the great crowd, we had tonight, we like to protect our home court. So, it was frustrating. But we’ve got another game.”

D’Angelo Russell sounding a bit more optimistic is looking forward to Game 5 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“You see two teams out there hungry, trying to compete,’ Russell said. “They sure as hell don’t want to lose to the Brooklyn Nets, and I think we’ve got a chance to beat the Sixers, so it’s just a high-intensity game and that’s what it’s going to look like. It’s going to be hard for all. Bodies are going to be flying. Give each other what we want.”

And, Russell has a game plan, particularly adjusting to Joel Embiid down low clogging the lane.

“I think that’s part of the game plan,” Russell continued. “When these big guys are clogging the lane like that, we’re able to throw over the top and get in and kick it out. When there’s three guys in there, it works in our favor. Like I said, we’ll look at the film, see where the help’s coming from, see where their scouting help is coming from and we capitalize on that. Simple as that.”

Nets players D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert each scored a team-high-tying 26 points for Brooklyn

If you are a Brooklyn Nets fan and you don’t know that the Brooklyn Nets are in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, you must be hiding under a rock. Last night, Nets fans came out in force to support their team at the Barclays Center for Game #3 against the Philadelphia 76ers. The cheering was so loud at times, the collective fans drowned out the Brooklyn Brigade.

The Nets came into the Barclays Center last night “even Stevens” at 1-1, as the Brooklyn Nets snatched Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia 111-102, but lost Game 2 in Philadelphia 143-125. Unfortunately, last night, the Nets lost Game 3 to the Sixers 131-115, falling to 1-2 in the First Round of the NBA Playoffs series while the Sixers improved to 2-1.

In assessing last night’s game against Philadelphia, Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said: “I think they (Philadelphia) did an outstanding job defensively. Taking away Joe (Harris) is huge. It’s like taking JJ (Redick) away. I think they are doing a great job there. Joe gives us a lot of our movement. Like I said, a lot of it is them, but I do think we can move it better. We obviously have to shoot it better. We didn’t shoot it well, and we also struggled at the rim. Not a good offensive performance on our part and I thought JJ’s run really got us off kilter defensively. When someone gets hot like that, the defense starts cheating and helping, and then other guys get off too. I thought that was a big part of the game.”

Atkinson continued his comment with heaping praise on Caris LeVert.

“He (LeVert) is playing really well right now,” Atkinson said about LeVert. “I think he is in a good groove. Obviously, he has come back from injury in great form. He was our lone offensive force out there tonight.”

LeVert was in a good groove, but, perhaps, Atkinson had not seen the score sheet. Or, perhaps, he was overwhelmed with LeVert’s performance since it has only been a short while since LeVert returned to the lineup after a horrific foot injury.

As it turns out, both D’Angelo Russell and LeVert, who came off the bench, were offensive forces for the Nets. Combining for 52 points, they both scored a team-high-tying 26 points. LeVert added seven rebounds and two steals to his total, while Russell added four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Other scoring leaders for the Nets included Jarrett Allen, who posted 15 points, six rebounds, and two assists; Spencer Dinwiddie also added 15 points and four rebounds off the bench, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who likewise came off the bench, chipped in 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists.

For the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons led all scorers with 31 points, nine assists, and four rebounds. Tobias Harris accumulated 29 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists; JJ Redick registered 26 points; Jimmy Butler added 16 points, seven assists, and two steals, and; Boban Marjanovic chipped in 14 points and eight rebounds.

“I thought it was one of Ben’s (Simmons) more dominant games,” Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown stated. “As a team, I think we went into a two-minute meltdown. At the end of the third period, Brooklyn went on that run. They sort of sat in the zone and we didn’t handle it that well. Short of that particular phase in the game, I thought Ben was exceptional.”

In closing out his postgame comments to the media, Nets coach Atkinson was forward-thinking about what happens next for the Nets.

“I think we have to look at everything,” Coach Atkinson said. “It starts defensively in terms of what we have to do. I think we look at lineups. It’s only 1-2. We come back here Saturday and if we win, it’s a different series. I think we have to look at some different things. Obviously, what we have been doing the last two games is not working.”

On Saturday, April 20, 2019, the Nets have an opportunity to even this first-round NBA playoff series against the Sixers and make it 2-2. Game 4 of this series starts at 3:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Dwyane Wade scores a triple-double for the Miami Heat in the last NBA game of his career, which was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY 

Wow, what an NBA season it has been for the Brooklyn Nets. During the 2018-19 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets have seen their share of adversities, but managed to push through and earned an NBA playoff spot. This will be the Brooklyn Nets first appearance in the NBA playoffs since 2015. Few observers at the beginning of the season predicted this team would be in the playoffs, as this season alone has been a rough ride getting here. Nevertheless, on Sunday, after defeating the Indiana Pacers, 108-96, the Nets improved its overall record to 41-40 and clinched a playoff spot.

With the Detroit Pistons’ losses and Orlando Magic’s wins against their respective opponents between Sunday and Wednesday night, the Nets earned a sixth-seeded playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference last night after defeating the Miami Heat 113-94.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes. Shabazz Napier posted 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 30 minutes off the bench; Rodions Kurucs totaled 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes; Treveon Graham added 11 points, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert each chipped in 10 points respectively. Hollis-Jefferson, who came off the bench, added 12 rebounds, three assists, and three steals to his points total, while LeVert added three rebounds and four assists.

Miami Heat’s guard Dwyane Wade, who played his last NBA game last night, scored a triple-double: a game-high 25 points, a team-high-tying 11 rebounds, and a game-high 10 assists in 36 minutes. Also, for Miami, Duncan Robinson accumulated 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists; Derrick Jones Jr. registered 13 points and four rebounds; Udonis Haslem scored 12 points and 11 rebounds, and; Bam Adebayo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

It was fitting that Dwyane Wade, who was playing the last game of his NBA career, scored a triple-double on his way out the door, but it almost didn’t happen.

“Yeah, probably literally an hour before the game he and I were talking,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told the assembled media postgame. “He had been on the table. The entire time he was here he did a bunch of treatment – at the hotel this morning. This morning he texted me saying he didn’t know if he would be able to go. He asked me what I thought, how he could make it worthwhile for everybody. He felt such a responsibility. We just said okay, we’ll see how you feel after treatment and get a little more rest until we get to the arena. I talked to him an hour before tip and he still didn’t feel great. His knee, his leg, wasn’t moving great. Just in typical Dwyane fashion he just figured he had to be there.”

“Since so many Dwyane Wade and Miami fans showed up, he felt such a responsibility,” Spoelstra continued. “That’s so awesome. I said this before – his next book has got to be called Moments. He knows how to capture moments as well as anybody that’s ever played this game. To play this game when he didn’t feel great and get a triple-double and get his last assist to Udonis Haslem the definition of capturing these moments and really giving everybody what they wanted.”

Asked whether he could have scripted it any better with a triple-double in his last game, Dwyane Wade responded: “No, I couldn’t have. Coming into a game like tonight, a bit out of the playoffs, for myself, these are tough games to play when you’re not playing for anything. I’m not the kind of player that will come out and just shoot the ball every time. Coming into the game, I wanted to see what I could do. To be able to help my teammates, definitely helped me out a lot to hear everyone cheering for me, to be able to go out that way was pretty cool. I don’t think about the Kansas game, but it was the same way in college. I got a triple-double towards the end then so that was pretty cool.”

With all the love heaped on Dwyane Wade last night, it was a challenge for the Brooklyn Nets to stay focus on the goal of getting a win despite having clinched a playoff spot, but with some work, they managed.

“You have to stay locked in,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell said. “But all the love and support that he has brought to this game and the love and support that he is getting on his way out is well deserved. You have to figure out a way to stay locked in but participate in the festivities as well. That dude is a legend. Just to see him on his way out like that, for me, it’s special. I got to be a part of Kobe’s (Bryant) and his, so I take that in a lot. It’s great to be on the floor.”

You can watch the first game featuring the Brooklyn Nets against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The second game is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and can be seen on TNT. Next, the Nets return home to the Barclays Center to play Game 3 on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and Game 4 on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., also on TNT.

 

In the loss, Brooklyn Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell leads Nets in scoring with 27 points, seven rebounds, and six assists

It wasn’t a blowout last night at the Barclays Center when the Brooklyn Nets lost 115-105 to the Toronto Raptors, the second-best team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Some say a loss is a loss no matter what the point spread is. But, in this case, when you’re fighting to clinch a spot in the playoffs, a loss can be more than a loss.

With the loss, the Nets fell to 39-40 overall and 22-18 at the Barclays Center, while the Raptors improved to 56-23 overall and 25-14 on the road with the win. But, moreover, the musical chairs of who’s in the NBA playoff seeding and who isn’t shifted last night and is likely to be a game of musical chairs over the remaining week. The Nets are still in the seventh spot, but the Miami Heat's loss to the Boston Celtics put the Orlando Magic in the eighth spot, while Miami fell to the ninth position.

So, what happened to the Nets last night.

“They were the better team,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I don’t know how else to tell you that. I think they were the better team tonight – from start to finish, gotta give credit. Excellent team. A team that’s going to compete for a championship. We were not up to that. Like I said before the game, those standards, you’ve got to be almost perfect. We weren’t. I would say we were average, and that’s not getting it done against a team like that.”

Toronto is the better team, hence the reason they are in the second position in the Eastern Conference. The Milwaukee Bucks are a better team, hence the reason, it is first in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Nets have no experience of turning it up in the final stretch of the regular season. And, they are traveling to play the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and then will travel to play the Indiana Pacers the very next day on Sunday. So, should we expect an upset in Milwaukee or in Indiana or both or two losses for the Nets? The best scenario for the Nets to make the playoffs is that since Miami is in the ninth position that Miami loses to Toronto on Sunday and Philadelphia on Tuesday and when Miami comes to Brooklyn on Wednesday, it would be too tired on the second game of a back-to-back to be victorious over Brooklyn. Of the three games on the Orlando Magic’s schedule, only the Boston Celtics are worrisome because the Magic could overtake Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. But, of course, anything could happen.

The Nets really do have to turn it up because last night, the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Toronto Raptors despite shooting .477 (41-of-86) from the field and limiting Toronto to .419 (44-of-105) from the field. The Nets also edged the Raptors 60-48 in points in the paint.

With the Toronto Raptors in the rearview mirror and as the Net face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, a question was posed to Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell: What can the Nets do against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo on Saturday?

“Just you know, make him feel us,” Russell responded. “He’s dominated the league this whole season. It’s a tough matchup. But we know what we gotta do. It’s going to take five of us to stop him, it’s not just (one) individual.”

Nets fans hear you, D’Angelo Russell, and they hope that you and the rest of the team can muster up a strategy and the energy to follow the strategy to prevail.

The Brooklyn Nets will play its final game of the regular season on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at home at the Barclays Center at 7:30 p.m. Hopefully, it won’t be the last game of the season and this team that has faced so many adversities this season gets a taste of what the NBA postseason is all about.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 28 points, Caris LeVert put up 24 points off the bench, but the loss is a cloud hanging over Nets’ head

Last night at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets met up with the Milwaukee Bucks, the best team in the NBA, by its 58-20 record; yes, the Bucks’ record is better than the Golden State Warriors’ record, which is 52-24.

The bad news is that the Nets lost to the Bucks 131-121. The good news for the moment is that the Nets are still holding on to the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference (EC). The three other teams that are also jockeying for position for the NBA’s sixth through eighth playoff spots in the EC, the Detroit Pistons (#6), Miami Heat (#8), and the Orlando Magic (#9), also lost last night.

The Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, and the Orlando Magic all have at least two formidable teams to play between now and April 10, 2019, the last day of the NBA regular season. And, by formidable, these teams have already clinched the 1 through 5 NBA Eastern Conference playoff spots. NBA Eastern Conference spots 6 through 8 are up for grabs between four teams or five, depending on how you feel about the Charlotte Hornets because technically, right now, sitting at 35-42, mathematically, the Hornets are not out of contention. Teams that the Hornets have on their schedule right now are the New Orleans Pelicans (32-46) a Western Conference team, and then EC teams, the Toronto Raptors (55-23), Detroit Pistons (39-38), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-57) and the Orlando Magic (38-40).

But, looking at the upcoming schedule for the teams that most people believe are in the race, Detroit has two strong teams to play, the Indiana Pacers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. On Miami’s schedule are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Orlando Magic being in the ninth spot is currently on the outside looking in and seemingly has the easiest schedule. The Magic’s last three games are against the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and the Boston Celtics. Of this lot, only the Boston Celtics is a playoff team. However, that doesn’t mean that the Magic would only lose to the Boston Celtics. Not in the least, the Nets just beat the Celtics, who were without Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, on Saturday. These are all NBA teams and on any given night, there could be key players out, there could be an upset or the outcome could be predictable, which will make the next few days very exciting for some and not so exciting for others.

Focusing on the Nets, they have four more games on their schedule. The Nets play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow at the Barclays Center, a back-to-back on the road on Saturday and Sunday, against the Milwaukee Bucks again, and the Indiana Pacers and then they come back home to play the Miami Heat on Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the last day of the regular season.

Wednesday, April 10, could be the determining day between the Nets and the Miami Heat, as well as other teams. Or, it could be over before the Nets get home depending upon what they do from this point forward and what the other teams do. Clearly, this is not a good position to be in.

And, as Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert, who scored 24 points, four rebounds and six assists, assessed last night’s game against the Bucks, the Nets have to be focused and dialed in from start to finish if they truly want to secure a playoff spot.

“I think we put ourselves in a big hole in that first quarter and it was tough fighting back, especially against a good team like that,” said LeVert. “They’re number one in the East for a reason. But we just have to learn from it. We played great basketball for like three-and-a-half quarters, so we have to learn from it and keep going.”

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