Following an embarrassing 113-83 loss at the hands of their cross-town rival New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Joe Johnson admitted that the team has lacked a discernible offensive identity in their first 19 games.
“Offensively, we don’t really have an identity,” Johnson said. “We throw it down to Brook pretty much, and when there’s nothing there, we put him in a lot of tough positions. We just basically sit and watch. So we make his job a lot harder than it should be. Without us doing a lot of movement and cutting, we make everybody’s job hard.”
Observers both casual and intensive alike have noticed the Nets struggle with off-ball movement this season, often standing around while the ballhandler tries to create a play for himself. Johnson cited the Nets dropping the ball down to Lopez, but they’ve traded possessions with a few players this season. Still, Nets players are rarely so forthcoming about the team’s schematic issues as Johnson was following the team’s blowout loss.
The team becomes particularly stagnant in the third quarter, when the Nets have been outscored by a league-worst 5.4 points per third. They also have the league’s fewest third-quarter assists and have forced the fewest third-quarter turnovers. “Maybe early we’ll have the movement, but second half, we don’t have that movement,” Johnson added. “We just don’t have any chemistry at this point.”
Johnson finished with 13 points, shooting 4-15 from the field and committing two turnovers. The loss dropped the Nets, who entered the season with hopes of winning a championship, to 5-14 on the season. Despite the rough start, Johnson still has hope.
“At the end of the day, it’s basketball,” Johnson continued. “It’s not that hard. I think we’re making it a lot more complicated than what it really is. It’s on us as players to come out and play and work hard on what we’re doing because regardless if we’re getting beat by teams that are better than us, I’m sure they’re not 25, 30 points better than us in our own building. So that’s on us as players.”
The team knows it needs to improve. Any other reasons?
“The East(ern Conference) is pretty bad,” he added. “So our chances are still high.”