Nets looking at bigger picture during midseason slump

Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash talks with guard Kyrie Irving between free throw attempts against the Golden State Warriors in the fourth quarter at the Chase Center.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets focus is on the big picture, not the short-term outlook. At least that’s the mentality they’re trying to preserve.

Brooklyn’s fourth straight loss on Saturday to Golden State was another one you could call closer than many had expected. The Nets managed to tie the game in the fourth at 91, but couldn’t fend off the Warriors late in the 110-106 loss. Still, the building blocks are there for the pain right now to be worth it in the end.

The Nets’ rough stretch — losers of their last four and having dropped five of their last seven since Kevin Durant went down injured — has dropped them down to sixth in the Eastern Conference. They’re 2.5 games back of first place in the East, but also a few losses away from ending up in play-in positioning.

While it looks ugly now, Nash said there is something bigger at play.

“I think it’s our job to make sure these guys recognize it’s about improvement,” Nash said. “It’s about growth. We’re undermanned, and hopefully, we win a bunch of games undermanned, but if we don’t, it’s about growth, it’s about getting better, and it’s about us putting ourselves in a position down the line that’s further ahead, and when we do get reinforcements, we’ll be much better for it.”

The Nets have not had Durant and James Harden has missed the past two games. The injury troubles for Brooklyn have been no secrete and have been talked about endlessly during the course of the year.

When it comes to their current state of affairs, no one on the team is expecting the rest of the league to feel sorry for them.

“We can’t be fragile,” Kyrie Irving said after his 32 point performance on Saturday. “People are gonna come at us. Nobody’s gonna feel bad whether this guy’s in the lineup, this guy’s not in the lineup. Every team is competing for those top-four positions. We’re one of those teams that have aspirations of playing down in the late postseason, and these games here, you remember them because you’re going up against a team that you can potentially be seeing down the line.”

That mindset will be needed with back-to-back games on the docket, including a meeting with the league-leading Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. It’s unclear if Harden will be back in the lineup for Brooklyn when the game tips off.

Regardless if he is, the Nets coach staff wants to see one thing from their team.

“We can’t just wait. We have to grow, we have to get better,” Nash said. “It’s our job as coaches to keep them pumped up, keep them positive, ask them to continue to do the right thing so we can grow and win or lose, make those steps.”