Welcome back, basketball! We missed you dearly.
Over four months after the NBA season was halted due to the coronavirus, the Brooklyn Nets made their return to the (bubble) court in scrimmage play against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. It was expectedly sloppy at times, but it was basketball nonetheless, so we will take it.
The Nets were with a short rotation, with both new and old faces sitting out of the team’s first scrimmage. While many Nets are already not in Orlando due to COVID-19, the lineup was without Joe Harris, in addition to new faces in Jamal Crawford, Justin Anderson, Donta Hall and Tyler Johnson as they continue their conditioning. Familiar voices of Ian Eagle, Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady were also present at a very empty Barclays center—welcome back, YES Network!
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 23, 2020
Doing a deep dive into Brooklyn’s first scrimmage back from the hiatus with a nine-man bench that resulted in a 31-point loss will not bring many insights, but there were a few overarching themes that stood out throughout the game.
First, Brooklyn had a hard time taking care of the ball. The team recorded 11 turnovers in the first half and 21 overall, leading to the Pelicans scoring 22 points off the giveaways. That sort of sloppiness is to be expected after a long layoff, with nearly the entire roster contributing at least one turnover, but it became hard to contain.
Next, the Nets had a slow start offensively—and by slow, we mean they went scoreless in the final 5:50 of the first quarter. Again, that is all part of shaking off the rust, but still did not do the team any favors after starting the game nearly toe-to-toe with the Pelicans. Brooklyn held New Orleans to just 15 points in the third quarter, but let the deficit balloon in the fourth by getting outscored 28-14. The Nets allowed five Pelicans to reach double figures as the team shot 46.8 percent for the game, which will not fly for the seeding games.
Lastly, while the team did not shoot particularly well, there were individuals who stood out that can step up down the stretch. Jarrett Allen went right back to work with another double-double, Dzanan Musa was successful in getting to the free-throw line and Chris Chiozza had a balanced stat line. Small victories in a game that mainly saw the Nets hanging around a 20-point deficit.
One scrimmage down for the Nets, two more to go. Fans will be able to get a clearer picture of the team once the full lineup is in tow, but Wednesday showed plenty of room for improvement—with the team’s grade tilting slightly higher side while accounting for the lack of bodies on the bench. Saturday’s matchup against the San Antonio Spurs will be a game to look towards to see more faces—and size—on the court.
The stats: 11 PTS, 2-6 FG, 0-3 3PT, 7-7 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 4 TOV, 27 MIN
Dzanan Musa could not find his stroke from three, but he was the most successful Net in getting to the free-throw line—and he made the trips worth it by making all seven shots. He was one of the sloppier Nets in handling the ball, registering four turnovers, but also came up defensively with five total rebounds while leading the team in points.
Musa played nearly the most minutes of the team, trailing just Chiozza. Nets fans will likely see more production from Musa as he gets his legs back under him and fights fatigue.
The stats: 10 PTS, 5-18 FG, 0-6 3PT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 1 TOV, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 23 MIN
This was not Caris LeVert’s best shooting night. It is obvious that LeVert will be taking an increased number of shots as he enters his role as the team’s leader for the season’s restart, but he could not find his rhythm on Wednesday.
LeVert did register three assists compared to just one turnover, taking care of the ball the best out of his teammates. He ended play in March on a scoring roll and his shot is bound to come back, likely sooner rather than later.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-5 FG, 2-3 FT, 10 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 23 MIN
Jarrett Allen did not have a lot of help from big bodies on Wednesday with Donta Hall sitting out, but he still managed to contribute with a double-double in 23 minutes. The Fro—which seems bigger than ever after the hiatus—got back to business and looked most like his normal self, even though he did not get many attempts at the rim.
Allen is the player that can take over a game if given the right opponent and lineup. It would be great to see him force his way to the paint more often and record his famous blocks as scrimmages continue.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-5 3PT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 4 TOV, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 20 MIN
Rodions Kurucs got to the rim well against the Pelicans, varying his offensive production both in the paint and from distance. He was sloppy with his four turnovers but nearly made up for it with his team-high three steals and a block.
Kurucs has never lacked confidence, and the Nets will need that trait as the season’s restart continues while he also cleans up his ball-handling. (His swimming skills are on point, though.)
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 23, 2020
The stats: 8 PTS, 3-7 FG, 2-4 3PT, 1 REB, 2 AST, 2 TOV, 1 BLK, 22 MIN
Garrett Temple was Brooklyn’s spark to start the game, scoring two quick threes in the first quarter, but he finished the game with just eight points. While Temple’s start was encouraging, he quickly fizzled as the Nets struggled to score.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 22, 2020
Brooklyn will need Temple to be once of the team’s go-to scorers as they are so short-staffed. If he can get hot from three alongside Harris, he can be a game-changer in the bubble.