First off, these are the first grades I’ve written since December 8th against the New York Knicks. Since then, the Brooklyn Nets have won 10 of their last 13 games and climbed into the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Ultimately, it feels good to be back, especially when the team is starting to put the league on notice. Tonight, however, Brooklyn was missing six of their key rotation players against a stout squad in the Boston Celtics. It was obvious that it was going to be an uphill battle, even in the best of circumstances.
The Nets started the game with 2k cheat codes turned on as they hit four quick three-pointers. Sadly, it took the team 12 more minutes to score the next 12 points. Meanwhile, the Celtics cruised along to a crazy 20-point lead. Part of that was stagnant offense, while the other part was largely due to the Nets’ *eleven* turnovers in the first quarter, the most of any team in any quarter so far this season.
It looked like the game was all but over and that the Nets — with an overall scheduled loss in mind — would throw in the towel halfway through the second quarter.
.@ShabazzNapier finds a cutting @RODIONS1 for the slam 💥 pic.twitter.com/NIgGzhVqDp
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 8, 2019
All of the Nets got that memo — except for Rodions Kurucs, that is. Behind his 17 points and 5-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, the boys in black were able to close the Celtics’ lead to just 11 going into the half.
Early on, the second half was more of the same. The Nets even managed to close the lead to five at one point before the Celtics handily put the game away. Honestly, there’s not all that much to write here. Kurucs was great, D’Angelo Russell struggled. Theo Pinson and Kenneth Faried were unleashed, at least a little bit.
But other than that? The result was in hand when the Nets announced the injury report this afternoon.
This wasn’t a game that the Nets were expected to win. They were facing one of the best teams in the conference with six players out due to injury. Of course, it would have been nice if the game was closer, but can you really blame a depleted Brooklyn squad for falling to the Celtics in Boston?
On Wednesday, the Nets’ next game against the Atlanta Hawks will be an excellent bounce-back opportunity before the daunting challenge of the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
The stats: 24 PTS, 8-15 FG, 5-8 3PT, 1 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO
In a game that was pretty boring, Rodions Kurucs gave Nets’ fans a reason to watch.
Kurucs’ offense was impressive and dynamic, which helped him lead all players in scoring and three-pointers made. The Nets’ rookie sensation and second-round savant is making waves and adding another reason for teams to be worried when Brooklyn comes to town. Most other nights, his efforts would have been enough to bring home a victory.
The stats: 15 PTS, 4-10 FG, 1-6 3PT, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO
Spencer Dinwiddie wasn’t exceptional, but he was the second-best Net tonight.
Dinwiddie has been on an absolute tear recently, especially when it comes to his efficiency. Tonight, obviously, was not one of his stronger games. He was still his consistent self, however, and did his best to keep the deficit manageable.
The stats: 5 PTS, 2-6 FG, 1-3 3PT, 1 REB, 5 AST, 6 TO
After flying high over the past couple of games, D’Angelo Russell crashed down to Earth tonight in Boston.
It isn’t entirely his own fault as he wasn’t put in the best position to succeed with half of the roster injured, but his lack of care with the ball is unacceptable no matter the circumstances. Tonight may have not been his best showing, but I’m confident that he will show up against Trae Young and the Hawks on Wednesday.
The Brooklyn Nets
Zzzzzzzzzzz, they played really hard — but it just wasn’t enough. With so many injured players, it was an admirable — if not sloppy — effort. But Rodions Kurucs versus the reigning Eastern Conference runner-ups is not a fair fight.
Fingers crossed for DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris’ return on Wednesday.