It was ice cold tonight in the Barclays Center and not in a good way.
Going into Monday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Brooklyn Nets had lost back-to-back games for the first time in 2019. With their inevitable loss in this game, the Nets added to that streak — making it the longest since that terrible eight-game stretch they suffered from late November to early December. The good news, finally, is that reports note that Caris LeVert could be back in the rotation before the All-Star break.
It was obvious early in the game that the Nets had made some adjustments since the last time they played the Bucks on Dec. 29. Jarrett Allen was primarily defending Giannis Antetokunmpo instead of Brook Lopez, which proved to be much more effective, at least for a while. In general, Brooklyn was more willing to allow the Greek Freak in the paint, at which they would then collapse on him and attempt to force a block or turnover — just like in the play below.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 5, 2019
That adjustment alone would have been enough to give Brooklyn an early lead if they were just able to hit some shots. The shooting struggles that have plagued the Nets were present early this game as they went 0-for-10 from behind the arc in the first quarter. Maybe they could benefit from an additional scorer who could create their own offense? (Read it, then hate on us.)
At any rate, although was Brooklyn was down early, they weren’t out of the game yet. In spite of their best efforts, they kept the Bucks’ lead to about 10 for most of the second quarter. They managed to do this while only hitting one of their first TWENTY three-point attempts, good for a hideous 5 percent. Unfortunately, it all collapsed in the second half — I’ll spare you the gory details.
(Spoiler: Giannis is REALLY good at basketball)
Ultimately, the Bucks are arguably the best team in the league — their record backs that up. The Nets are obviously still missing key pieces, but what can you do? However, it can’t be ignored that Brooklyn has started to slip in the standings. Something needs to change if this team still wants to make the playoffs. Will LeVert’s return inspire the squad to return to its winning ways? Only time will tell.
Brooklyn shot 42 three-pointers this game — they hit five. The polar vortex may have swept through last week, but the Nets are still waiting to unthaw.
Jarrett Allen Center
8 PTS, 4-7 FG, 0-1 3PT, 11 REB, 1 AST, 4 BLK, 2 TO
Jarrett Allen provided the only warmth for Nets fans tonight.
.@_bigjayy_ rises up for the TIP SLAM over Giannis Antetokounmpo 😤😤
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) February 5, 2019
Like always, The Fro was not afraid to challenge the opposing team’s best player on every drive. He stood valiantly against the Greek Freak, but it was a futile effort in the end. While he did add to his ever-growing highlight reel, I expect that he would have much preferred to add to the team’s win column.
Rodions Kurucs Power Forward
5 PTS, 2-10 FG, 1-6 3PT, 3 REB, 4 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO
Rodions Kurucs is a microcosm for this entire Brooklyn squad.
He has run face-first into a brick wall. The game which was coming so naturally to him earlier in the season now looks disjointed and out-of-control — but Kurucs isn’t alone in this. The team is playing sloppy basketball and it’s been reflected in this recent stretch of games. The schedule only gets harder from here, but at least the team will be together as a whole to face it.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
18 PTS, 7-20 FG, 2-6 3PT, 1 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO
D’Angelo Russell is desperately wishing for the All-Star break.
.@Dloading called bank, we heard it.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) February 5, 2019
No other player will benefit from the return of LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie as much as Russell. As it stands now, he is frequently the only ballhandler on the floor — which makes it comically easy for opposing coaches to gameplan for and neutralize Russell. It won’t be nearly as easy to contain the All-Star when LeVert is back in action.
Shabazz Napier Point Guard
15 PTS, 4-15 FG, 0-10 3PT, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 1TO
Shabazz Napier is looking like hot garbage right now, but it really isn’t his fault.
A lot of the poor shooting tonight can be attributed to Napier — just check the boxscore. Napier accounted for nearly 25 percent of the three-pointers that the team took and he missed every single one. This is another effect of Dinwiddie’s injury. Napier was only ever meant to be a third-string guard, but he played the second-most minutes tonight only behind Russell.
As the only other true ball-handler on the team, the Nets need him to produce, especially when Russell is sitting. He is being forced to carry an offensive load that he is unaccustomed to, leading to inefficient outings.
It’s an instance of a bad game, not a bad player.