Saying the Brooklyn Nets have been struggling lately would be an understatement.
They have won just four of their last 12 games, with that stretch including a loss to the Chicago Bulls and a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers that took three overtimes to eke out. The Miami Heat, on the other hand, played perhaps their best game of the season in their victory over the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 27.
Nevertheless, the Nets were still favored in this game, if for no other reason than necessity. They have been playing a poor brand of basketball, and as a result have been stuck hovering around .500 as teams like the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets continue to creep up the standings. Winning this game would have provided a much-needed confidence boost, and the Nets had a good shot at that with the Heat missing two of their best players in Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic.
Of course, things are never easy with the Brooklyn Nets.
If Nets fans were looking for a change of pace in Brooklyn’s recent lackluster play to start this game, there was none to be found. It was basically a rerun of the same issues — a lifeless offense lacking ball-movement, sloppy drives and passes leading to turnovers, and an aversion to playing defense.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 3, 2019
This nasty dunk from Rodions Kurucs was the lone reason to watch the first half.
And as has become common, the second half continued the same habits of the first, with Brooklyn this time losing by its largest margin this season — 29.
This has easily been the worst basketball the Nets have played since their eight-game losing streak earlier this season. The difference this time is that many of those games were close losses the squad simply failed to close out; this recent stretch of poor play has manifested itself in blowout losses to teams the Nets were favored to beat.
This group does not look like a playoff team in its current state, and unless the Nets turn this around quickly, they won’t be.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO
D’Angelo Russell did not play a bad game of basketball as an individual.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 3, 2019
He hit his shots, dished to his teammates, and took good care of the ball for the most part, which is more than can be said for the rest of the roster. The only downside is that he couldn’t do it in a higher volume, but a lot of that comes down to team performance.
Treveon Graham Small Forward
8 PTS, 3-10 FG, 2-6 3PT, 4 REB, 1 BLK, 0 TO
Treveon Graham has not been the four the Nets are looking for.
That really is not his fault — seriously. Graham is undersized at the four and never claimed to be a floor-stretcher. Still, this team needs something new, because what it has going now is just not clicking.
Whether it comes in the form of youthful energy in Kurucs or veteran leadership in Jared Dudley, it just needs to be something other than Graham in this role.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
15 PTS, 6-11 FG, 2-5 3PT, 3 REB, 2 BLK, 4 TO
Joey Buckets lived up to his name by leading the team in scoring on Saturday, but fell short elsewhere.
He took good shots and had an efficient night, for sure. However, there were also times where Harris forced a drive to the basket too hard and got stripped. Harris was a big reason for the team’s turnover numbers tonight, another stat he led in.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
10 PTS, 2-12 FG, 0-4 3PT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO
Spencer Dinwiddie attempted to play the hero on Saturday, but fell flat.
At least some part of the stagnant offense has to be blamed on the ball-handlers, and Dinwiddie did not do a great job of engaging his teammates. There were too many possessions where the ball would only be passed once or twice before Spencer would drive and try to draw a foul or attempt a risky pass to the wing, resulting in a turnover.