October 19, 2019

Taurean Prince makes a declaration with 22 points, rookie Nicolas Claxton shows he has skills, and; Nets new locker room décor makes a statement all its own

It’s only preseason, but the Brooklyn Nets blew out the Brazilian basketball team, SESI/Franca, 137-89, last night at the Barclays Center.

As with any sport, on any given night, any team could defeat their opponent. Unfortunately, for Brazil’s SESI/Franca, the pride of the country couldn’t even make them more competitive last night. Granted, NBA players as a group, are the most elite basketball players in the world. However, the Nets players that were on the floor last night are not NBA elite players, some have the potential, but they are not there yet.

Beyond the information provided to this reporter about SESI/Franca’s starting five, i.e., names, numbers, and player positions, there really isn’t that much information to go on about this team. In doing background research on Google, Franca Basquetebol Clube  is the legal name for the team, but it is known as SESI/Franca for sponsorship reasons. It is a Brazilian men's professional basketball club that is based in Franca, São Paulo state. Founded on May 10, 1959, the club has won the South American Club Championship six times. The players range in age from 16 -37 years old. The oldest player is David Jackson, who is an American and a starting guard. Both Rafael Hettsheimeir and Lucas Cipolini are 33 years old.

With 26 points and five rebounds, Hettsheimeir put up the most points for SESI/Franca and led all scorers; Jackson added 19 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals, and; Jimmy De Oliveira who scored 15 points and three assists were the only players scoring in double digits for SESI/Franca. Their bench combined for 15 points.

Meanwhile, the Nets had eight players to score in double digits. Taurean Prince led the Brooklyn Nets with 22 points and four rebounds; David Nwaba and Dzanan Musa each scored 18 points, Nwaba added five rebounds and four assists, while Musa seven rebounds and three assists; Caris LeVert, and Nicolas Claxton, who came off the bench, both contributed 13 points, while LeVert added nine assists to his totals; starting center Jarrett Allen and second unit G/F Garrett Temple each scored 12 points, Allen achieved five rebounds and three assists, while Temple managed to add three assists and three rebounds to his total, and; lastly, DeAndre Jordan came off the bench to chip in 11 points and eight rebounds.

Spencer Dinwiddie, known for his scoring and assists, led all players last night in rebounds with 12.

There was plenty of ball movement and Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was pleased that his players dialed in on that note.

“I liked our quick decisions,” said Coach Atkinson. “It’s part of our principals. Shoot it, move it, drive it, and the guys did a really good job across the board. But we have to follow it up again. Forty assists is a big number. I’m very pleased with that.”

Claxton, a rookie who the Brooklyn Nets selected with the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, talked about playing his first NBA minutes.

“At the end of the day, whatever level it is, it’s basketball,” Claxton said. “I just wanted to come out there and affect the game in any way that I could, and I think I did a pretty good job of that. Just using the minutes that I had and making something happen. My teammates helped me out a lot too – just finding me in my spots and everything.”

Brooklyn Nets fans are going to be counting on all Nets players to be found in their rights spots as the season flows on. As we all know, there will be down days, but at least, when those down days are at home, the Nets players will have a locker room with beautiful décor to lament in.

 
 

A new Big 3 arrives in Brooklyn to add firepower to the Brooklyn Nets which already feature standouts Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris

When the news broke during the first moments of the 2019 NBA Free Agency that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would be signing with the Brooklyn Nets, it was clear that this was the start of a new era in Brooklyn. Today, that notion was underscored and co-signed by the number of media that showed up to see and hear from these two NBA superstars at the Brooklyn Nets Media Day held at the Nets practice facility.

The event kicked off with Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson answering a myriad of questions from the media including: how the Irving – Durant deal came together, will Kevin Durant travel with the team to China (preseason), players Atkinson expects to see take the next step upwards, what it’s like working with elite basketball players, and more.

In his own words: Kenny Atkinson

Kyrie Irving Hits The Stage

Then the moment that everyone was waiting for, Kyrie Irving takes the stage. Before anyone could ask questions, Irving leaned in and laid it all out. Irving started off as though he was in a confessional, all that was missing was, forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

“I’m incredibly grateful to be here,” Irving said. “It’s been a journey that I’ve taken numerous steps in different directions, and I’ve failed and succeeded…”

Uhhh, so where is this going?!

Irving went on to say that he was the mastermind behind bringing Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan to the Brooklyn Nets.

Meanwhile, in the weeks leading up to the announcement, the drumbeat that Irving and Durant would be signing with the New York Knicks grew louder with each passing day. So, how did Irving and company land in Brooklyn?

From Irving’s detailing of the sequence of events, it seemed like the Brooklyn Nets were in the lead for a good while. He went into detail about his decision-making and listed the factors that swayed his decision. Irving watched a good deal of Brooklyn Nets tape, he noticed that the players played hard, the Brooklyn Nets were a well-managed and coached team, New York City is close to home, and he grew up watching and rooting for the Nets, which was his hometown team when they played in New Jersey.

So, how did those so-called basketball insiders get this so wrong? Easy, they were probably not talking with Kyrie Irving and probably didn’t know that he used to root for the Nets in the Julius Erving days. Additionally, when people hear New York, they forget that Brooklyn is part of New York City.

But, getting back to the deal, at 4:16 a.m. before NBA free agency started in earnest, Irving, Durant, and Jordan were on the phone, FaceTime, specifically, when Irving asked if they were ready to do this. Indeed, they were, and Irving reached out to Nets general manager Sean Marks to get the ball rolling. He also let Marks know that it wasn’t just him, saying, “I had some other pieces I wanted to bring with me as well…”

Marks, talking about the signing of Irving and Durant at his press conference on Tuesday played it cool as if it was just another day at the office. But, listening to Kyrie Irving, one could only imagine the “happy dance” that Marks and his team were probably doing when he learned that Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan were ready to sign with Brooklyn.

For the most part, Brooklyn Nets fans were exuberant at the news that Irving and Durant would be coming to Brooklyn and not the New York Knicks. However, some fans and reporters were wondering will Irving come and then leave Brooklyn high and dry like he did Boston. In answering the Boston issue without being asked, Irving stated, “nine months ago I was sitting in front of the Boston crowd saying that I wanted to re-sign. And after that, a lot of things happened in my personal life that really changed the landscape of how I felt about the game of basketball and actually playing it in a team environment, and that really affected me as a human being.”

“‘Hey…they loved me in Boston, I loved the Boston fans” Irving continued. “And then two weeks later things just got really, really rocky for me in terms of — when I left for, I believe you know, after the Phoenix game, I went to my grandfather’s memorial, and he passed on October 23rd and after he passed, basketball was the last thing on my mind. So, a lot of basketball and the joy I had from it was sucked away from me and there was a facial expression that I carried around with me throughout the year, didn’t allow anyone to get close to me in that instance and it really bothered me. I didn’t take the necessary steps to get counseling or get therapy or anything to deal with someone that close to me dying. I’ve never dealt with anything like that.”

At that moment, there was a momentum shift in the room, yes, Kyrie Irving is a basketball god, a basketball hero, but he is also a human being that grieves like the rest of us.

We also learned that Irving and Durant have a real bond and Irving is very protective of Durant which he made very clear when he recounted Durant’s injury to his Achilles.

“We all know K was not ready to play in that environment…we put him on a national stage to end up selling a product (that) came before the person,” Irving said as though they were fighting words.

So, if Irving has anything to do with it, don’t expect to see Kevin Durant on the court before he’s physically ready.

Kevin Durant Speaks, sort of

Speaking of Durant, when it was his turn to speak, it was more question and answer and a noticeable shift in the relationship with the media. While Kyrie was open and laying it all bare, Durant, was closely guarded and with good reason. Since his move to the Golden State Warriors from the Oklahoma City Thunder, some media people seem to be out to get him.

For Durant, the opportunity to play for the Brooklyn Nets with his friends at this moment in time was not to be taken lightly, “it’s very rare we could meet up at this point… to control our destinies.”

Durant also did his homework researching the Nets. He already knew Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert from working out with him last summer. But he researched Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.

“I was doing a lot of YouTube research on Kenny Atkinson and watching interviews to see how he talked after games and stuff,” Durant admitted. “I really liked his approach to his craft as a coach and that’s what drew me in pretty quickly.”

DeAndre Jordan

In every group, there seems to be someone who brings the comic relief and DeAndre Jordan was just what the doctor ordered. Jordan made it clear that as a veteran player at the center position, he will mentor Jarrett Allen, who is going into his third year, but the position will be competitive.

Jarrett, you have been put on notice.

What’s Next?

The Brooklyn Nets will play two games at home at the Barclays Center during the NBA preseason, on Friday, October 4, 2019, against the SESI/Franca Basketball Club (Brazil) and on Friday, October 18, 2019, against the Toronto Raptors. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.

The first regular-season home game is on Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:30 p.m., against the Minnesota Timberwolves, followed by the New York Knicks on Friday, October 25, 2019, also at 7:30 p.m.

 
 

With the Brooklyn Nets new player composition, the Nets are on the map, and the competition is expected to be fierce

The NBA released its 2019-20 schedule of NBA games today, and the Brooklyn Nets followed showcasing their highly anticipated schedule. As one who has been regularly covering the Brooklyn Nets since its inaugural 2012-13 season in Brooklyn, I can tell you the first home game of the season at the Barclays Center is always thrilling. There’s electricity in the air, as excited diehard Nets fans are back to root for their team. However, if you follow NBA news, you know this season is going to be different. You will want to be at the Barclays Center when the Nets first game of the season tips off against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 23rd, at Barclays Center.

And, if you’re asking why, go have a seat. Seriously, this will be the night that the Brooklyn Nets unveils its new roster to the public, which includes the long-awaited introduction of new players Kevin Durant (although Durant won’t be playing), Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan, as well as, returning fan favorites: Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs, Caris LeVert, Dzanan Musa, and Theo Pinson.

The Timberwolves will feature its standouts Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and former Nets players Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier should be in the house, as they now play for the Timberwolves.

Over the course of the season, fans are going to be paying attention to see if Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson will be able to work his player development magic on 2019 NBA draftees Nicolas Claxton and Jaylen Hands, in addition to weaving into the Nets system new players Deng Adel, Wilson Chandler, Henry Ellenson, David Nwaba, Taurean Prince, and Garrett Temple.

Want to see Zion Williamson, the NBA’s 2019 No.1 Draft Pick, in Brooklyn? The Nets play his team, the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, November 4, 2019. It will be Williamson’s first NBA game in New York City during the regular NBA season.

If going out during the week isn’t your thing, you’re in luck because 18 of Brooklyn’s 41 home games will be played on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. And, if you’re good with arithmetic, you know that’s just under half of the home game schedule.

The Nets will also host five-afternoon matches, including a 3 p.m. game versus the Philadelphia 76ers on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 20, 2020.

Want to see the Nets’ first home game against 2019 NBA playoff foe, the Philadelphia 76ers featuring Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons? You can check them out on Sunday, December 5, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. Former Boston Celtics player, Al Horford, is now with the Sixers, so this offers a matchup between him and ex-Boston teammate and new Nets signee, Kyrie Irving.

A couch potato, or a Nets fan living in another city, you’re in luck. The Nets did so well last season, they will be featured on national television 20 times this season, six games on ESPN, six contests on TNT, and eight games on NBA TV.

If you prefer radio, Brooklyn Nets games will broadcast regionally on the YES Network for the 18th consecutive season and on WFAN radio for the 16th consecutive season.

The Nets will play two season-long four-game homestands this season, with the first beginning Tuesday, January 7, versus Oklahoma City and ending Tuesday, January 14, versus Utah, and the second spanning from Wednesday, March 18, versus Washington through Wednesday, March 25, versus the L.A. Clippers. The month of January will feature a season-high 10 home contests.

Brooklyn’s longest stint away from the Barclays Center will come in November, when they embark on a nine-day, five-game road trip, beginning on Friday, November 8, at Portland and concluding in Chicago on Saturday, November 16.

The team’s schedule also includes 11 back-to-back sets. And, you know how players hate back-to-back games.

You can see the full Nets schedule here.

With the player moves that Nets general manager Sean Marks made over the summer, this Nets season is highly anticipated. Expect games to be sold out, so don’t wait until the last minute, get your tickets as soon as possible. This Brooklyn Nets season is going to be lit!

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.

D’Angelo Russell lights up the Boston Celtics with 20 points in the third quarter

We’re coming into the homestretch for the NBA regular season and the Brooklyn Nets are fighting to hold onto a playoff spot. And, boy, did the Nets catch a break to win this matchup over the Boston Celtics at the Barclays Center last night! No Kyrie Irving and no Al Horford, both players were nursing illnesses. For Irving, it was low back soreness and for Horford, it was left knee soreness. But the Celtics had scoring leaders Gordon Hayward, who scored 19 points, six rebounds, and three assists off the bench, and; both Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis each scored 16 points, and five and four rebounds respectively. Also, it should be noted that Theis racked up his totals coming off the bench.

The Celtics led the Nets at the end of the first quarter 21-17, not a big margin. But small margins can balloon, and at the end of the first half, it was anybody’s guess how things would eventually turn out, as the Nets led the Celtics by one point, 49-48. But then came the third quarter and Brooklyn ended this stanza with an 11-point lead over Boston (82-70). As the fourth quarter was closing out, it was clear that the Brooklyn Nets was defending home turf mightily and there was a possibility of holding yet another opponent to less than 100 points.

With the 110-96 win over the Boston Celtics last night, the Nets improved to 39-38 overall and 22-16 at Barclays Center and are currently holding down the seventh playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference, while the Celtics fell to 45-32 overall and 18-20 on the road with the loss. And, don't cry for the Celtics, Argentina, as they are in the fourth playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. And, unlike the Nets, the Celtics have already clinched their playoff spot so no matter what happens from this point on, the Celtics will be playing when the NBA's regular season ends.

Nevertheless, Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was visibly upset during a timeout in the third quarter.

“I was really frustrated,” Stevens told the media after the game. “I didn’t think we valued possessions at the level we need to, to be a good team. That’s what I just talked about and I get it. We played really hard last night. Last night was a tough game but every possession all year matters. We haven’t been great at that and that’s one of the things if we’re going to make it anywhere significant, they’ve all got to matter equally. Offensively and defensively. Moving it. All of those things. I didn’t think anyone was on their “A” game by any means tonight and I just think we’ll need to be better.”

“We weren’t very good in the first half, and that’s a credit to their defense,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said as he started to break down the two halves. “My biggest fear against this team – against the Celtics – was, can you score against them? I think they’re just a great defensive team. We struggled in the first half and got it going in the third quarter. Obviously, D’Angelo... I think we were getting stopped when we got out on a break and I think playing against their set defense is very difficult. You have to get them back in a transition situation where they’re not set. I thought we did a great job at that. I think that’s how D’Angelo got loose. We had a couple (of) guys get to the rim a few times. And, also, just a good defensive effort by us, really good defensive effort.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ primary floor general, D’Angelo Russell, also chimed in with his assessment of the two halves.

“There’s two halves in a game,” Russell stated. “First half was a little suspect, costly turnovers, questionable shot selection, so I just knew I had to tighten up and we’re a team when someone sets an example we’re going to follow. DeMarre Carroll was solid for us, kept us solid and then I just wanted to take it over at the start of the third.”

D’Angelo Russell led the Brooklyn Nets with a game-high 29 points, a game-high 10 assists, three rebounds and two steals in 30 minutes. Caris LeVert scored 15 points and four steals in 29 minutes off the bench. Both Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll tallied 13 points each for the Nets. Harris also accumulated a game-high eight rebounds, while Carroll added four rebounds to his total, and; Jarrett Allen posted 10 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

The Nets will host the Milwaukee Bucks at Barclays Center on Monday, April 1, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Also, on Monday, the Celtics will return home to host the Miami Heat, who is currently holding the eighth playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Celtics vs. Heat game is also at 7:30 p.m. ET.

With the win, the Nets move back into the No. 6 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference; Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 19 points

For the first time in a good long while, the atmosphere in the Barclays Center was like the NBA playoffs; it was over-the-top electric, as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Detroit Pistons 103-75. Wowza! With the win, the Nets have won four straight games and got back to the sixth position in the NBA Eastern Conference right behind the Boston Celtics. The Nets improved to 36-33 overall and 21-16 at Barclays Center, while the Pistons fell to 34-32 overall and 13-19 on the road with the loss.

By the Numbers

The Nets held the Pistons to .278 shooting (27-of-97) from the field, which marked a season-low for a Nets' opponent field goal percentage and the third-lowest opponent field goal percentage in franchise history. You would have to go all the way back to November 9, 2004, to a Nets vs. Portland Trail Blazers game when the Nets held the Trail Blazers to a .244 field goal percentage, yikes! And, on March 7, 2006, against the Phoenix Suns when the Nets held the Suns to a field goal percentage of .268.

Not only did the Detroit Pistons lose, right now they are a team that holds the dubious distinction of a Nets’ opponent with a season-low 75 points, that has to sting. But that is better than ending the game with 62 points, which is what the Pistons had after three quarters – Nets 88 Pistons 62.

But don’t despair, Detroit, you’re not the only team that the Brooklyn Nets led by 26 after three quarters. Just last week on March 4, the Nets led the Dallas Mavericks by 26 points at the end of the third quarter with a score of 99-73. But wait, there’s more. The Nets held the San Antonio Spurs to the fewest points at the end of the third this season, which was 81-59.

Brooklyn also edged Detroit 54-24 (+30) in points in the paint and 18-5 (+13) in fast break points.

What stuck out most about the Nets for Detroit Pistons head coach Dwyane Casey, was “just the physicality of the game – they came in and whipped us every which way there was. We didn’t fight through screens, we didn’t set screens, any phase of basketball you want to talk about. If we’re serious about making the playoffs, we have to come out and not believe all the hype and all the stuff. We didn’t come out and play. I didn’t coach physical enough or whatever. We didn’t play physical enough. We took a full step back tonight.”

“Everything kind of aligned tonight,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “I thought the game plan was good and the guys executed well, especially defensively. Detroit was coming off a game the night before, and it is late in the season, so we had more juice tonight. I don’t say that to take anything away from our guys.”

“It was another step from all our other games,” Brooklyn Nets center Jarrett Allen explained. “We knew that we had to bring a certain physicality against Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so we had to turn it up a little bit.”

So how did Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin fare when it was all said and done?

Andre Drummond scored 13 points, 20 rebounds, and three assists for Detroit, while Blake Griffin added 10 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

While the Pistons only had two players to score 10 points or more, the Nets had seven.

Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench to lead all scorers with 19 points (5-of-11 FG, 7-of-7 FT), Allen Crabbe scored a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and he added four assists; Rodions Kurucs posted 13 points; both Joe Harris and Caris LeVert tallied 12 points, Harris accumulated four rebounds and three assists to his totals, while LeVert who came off the bench and added five rebounds to his points. Both Jarrett Allen and D’Angelo Russell each scored 11 points, Allen added eight rebounds and two blocked shots to his totals, while Russell added seven assists, three rebounds, and two steals.

What's Next

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the Brooklyn Nets kick off their seven-game road trip with their first stop in Oklahoma City to play the Thunder and their last game on this road trip is against the Philadelphia 76ers on March 28, 2019, before returning home to play the Boston Celtics on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons will travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat, another team struggling to make the playoffs. This match-up will be on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET.

Spencer Dinwiddie leads all scorers with 28 points

The Cleveland Cavaliers put up a good fight last night but ultimately lost to the Brooklyn Nets 113-107. A good win for the Nets, as the team is now back over .500, improving their record to 34-33 overall, while the Cavaliers fell to 16-49 overall and 6-25 on the road with the loss. The Nets also improved its wins against Eastern Conference teams, which could be needed to sort out placement and ties if the Nets are still in the running for a playoff position at the end of the regular season.

After the NBA All-Star break and into the month of March, the playoffs are on everyone’s mind, especially, as with the Nets, if your team hasn’t been there in a few years. As much as Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson would like not to have the NBA playoffs front and center, at this point there is no escaping it, particularly when a reporter asks, what tonight’s win means for a playoff push.

“Yeah, I think there was a moment in the fourth quarter where we were desperate,” Coach Atkinson responded. “And even in the third, they had an eight-point lead, I think. I’m glad we kept our cool though because you know, maybe last year or two years ago we would lose that lead, or the lead would go to 16 or 18. The fact that we kept our cool, weathered the storm and came back was important. We won that game without playing great.”

Atkinson didn’t respond directly to the playoffs. But reading between the lines, if a team doesn’t know how to come back from a deficit, it probably won’t be in NBA playoff conversation at least from a positive perspective. In years past, the Nets would get into trouble in the third quarter even after leading in the first half. However, players have bought into Atkinson’s system and have learned to take back control when they are not leading coming out of the third quarter, as in this case, Cleveland led 85-80.

“I thought our defense was good all night,” Atkinson said starting to explain how the Nets were able to take control of the fourth quarter. “I think we did a pretty good job – they hit a few too many three’s – but for the most part, we defended. I think Caris (LeVert) had an important stretch there when we were struggling and couldn’t really score. He made some big plays, started to get downhill, and obviously, Spencer (Dinwiddie) too. Those two guys, I thought they turned it up. Our offense, we’re struggling. And we really needed those two guys tonight. I think they did a good job.”

“We needed stops,” Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell proffered. “Teams get going like that. Any team in the league can get going. It’s hard to stop the bleeding without getting stops so we knew we had to get stops.”

And, the Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew pretty much co-signed on how the Brooklyn Nets were able to take down his team.

“First of all, come out ready to play at the start of the game,” Drew said. “I believe we had eight turnovers in the first quarter, but we were able to overcome that. Playing on the road you just can’t play like that. Going down the stretch we just didn’t make the plays on either end. Brooklyn’s been playing well. You have to give credit where credit is due. They’ve really been getting after people. We allowed them to speed us up a little bit. When it came down to it down the stretch, we just didn’t make the plays. We had some bad shots. We had a couple of turnovers and we let it get away from us.”

At the end of the day, it was the Nets’ defense and keeping their composure under pressure.

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench and led all scorers with 28 points, four rebounds, and five assists. D'Angelo Russell registered 25 points, four rebounds, and five assists, and three steals; Jarrett Allen had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and he added three assists to his total; Caris LeVert accumulated 14 points and four rebounds off the bench; Rodions Kurucs chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds, and; Ed Davis crashed the boards with 12 rebounds.

The Nets’ bench outscored the Cavs’ bench 50-45 points. Brooklyn also edged the Cavs 7-3 (+4) in blocks, 58-38 (+20) in points in the paint and 22-14 (+8) in second-chance points.

Leading scorers for the Cavaliers were Kevin Love with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists; David Nwaba added 22 points off the bench; Larry Nance Jr. registered 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and four steals; Jordan Clarkson came off the bench and accumulated 14 points and seven rebounds, and; Colin Sexton chipped in 12 points and five assists.

The Cavaliers will travel to Miami to take on the Heat on Friday, March 8, 2019, at 8:00 p.m. ET., and the Brooklyn Nets won’t see its next opponent, the Atlanta Hawks until Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Atlanta. The Nets will then travel back to Brooklyn and take on the Detroit Pistons on Monday, March 11, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. at the Barclays Center.

D’Angelo Russell led all Nets scorers with 22 points in the loss; Spencer Dinwiddie back in the lineup after missing 14 games following surgery on right thumb

This was a tough game to watch. For the second time this week, the Brooklyn Nets got pushed into the L column by an opponent that was either banging on the door for a playoff spot or seeking to move up in the standings. On Wednesday, it was the Washington Wizards, last night, the Nets lost to the Charlotte Hornets 123-112. The Nets are now 32-32 overall and 18-16 at the Barclays Center and the Hornets improved to 29-33 overall and 9-21 on the road with the win.

“We have given up 68 points in the first half two games in a row,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about his team’s recent streak. “It starts on the defensive end. It’s not about the lineups or working guys back in from injury. It’s about defense and we have to do a better job on that end. Right now, we just aren’t getting it done.”

Unfortunately, the Nets struggle wasn’t just defense, the Hornets had 50 field goals to the Nets 44 and 10 offensive rebounds to the Nets seven.

“We have to find some solution because we are out of sync right now,” Atkinson continued acknowledging his team’s offensive struggles. “We will figure it out because right now we aren’t sharp. Shot selection is not great, ball movement is not great. We will look at some things. Obviously, this late in the season, we won’t be changing our offense, but we will find some ways to help the guys.”

Coach Atkinson may want to look at his team’s offense because other teams certainly are looking at their offense to take them off their game, case in point, Hornets head coach James Borrego.

“…I think when we were here last time, Kemba was rolling there in that fourth quarter and they switched to a zone and they tried to take the ball out of his hands. This is a zone team, they’re number one in the NBA playing zone. We‘re going to see zone tonight, we understand that we play better against the zone of late…,” Coach Borrego told the media just before the game started.

For the Charlotte Hornets, Kemba Walker led all scorers with 27 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and four steals; Jeremy Lamb registered 22 points off the bench; Nicolas Batum accumulated 17 points, six rebounds, and five assists; Frank Kaminsky recorded 15 points and seven rebounds; both Cody Zeller and Tony Parker scored 12 points, with Parker scoring his 12 points and five assists off the bench and Zeller adding nine rebounds and three assists, and; not to be outdone, Marvin Williams chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds.

D’Angelo Russell led Brooklyn with 22 points and nine assists in 28 minutes. DeMarre Carroll scored 20 points (5-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 3FG, 7-of-8 FT) with five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench; Spencer Dinwiddie returned to action last night for the first time since January 23, 2019, vs. Orlando and posted 15 points and four assists in 23 minutes off the bench. Dinwiddie missed 14 games following surgery that repaired ligaments in his right thumb. Caris LeVert totaled 14 points (6-of-11 FG) with seven rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes, and Jarrett Allen chipped in 10 points in 23 minutes.

Regarding the Nets struggles lately, could it be an abundance of riches now that everyone is healthy and back in the lineup and they need to adjust?

Or, is it just as simple as what D’Angelo Russell said: “We can’t dig ourselves in holes and teams shoot well and expect to get out of it by us scoring; we’ve got to get stops.”

Or, perhaps, it’s both.

The Brooklyn Nets travel to Miami to play the Miami Heat tonight at 7:30 p.m.

TIP-INS:

Dinwiddie has now scored 808 points off the bench this season, becoming the second player in franchise history to tally 800+ points in a season off the bench (Armen Gilliam scored 878 points off the bench in the 1993-94 season).

With his fourth rebound tonight, Ed Davis moved past Detlef Schrempf (3,640) and is now third in NBA history in rebounds off the bench (since the NBA first tracked starters in 1970-71). He now has 3,641 career rebounds off the bench and trails only Kevin McHale (3,526) and Paul Silas (5,337).

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