A nice and calm night in the desert with the Pheonix Suns is exactly what the doctor ordered to help mitigate the stress from the midterm elections.
It definitely started out normal and slow, with 11 fouls between the two teams in the first 8 minutes. Even using the word “nice” to describe this game of professional competition might be a tad bit too generous. To start, it was not the highest quality of basketball that the Brooklyn Nets have played this season.
It was, however, good enough to take a lead over the Suns early on. The game seemed to be characterized in the first half, at least on the side of Brooklyn, by smart ball movement leading to good looks that they simply failed to convert on. While no individual player took over in the first half, there was a determined team effort that stopped the Suns in their tracks whenever they threatened to go on a run. For a team as bad as Phoenix, it was reassuring to see the Nets take care of business even when they weren’t clicking on all cylinders at the beginning.
This ain't no rec league ball, but when the Nets pull out the same cut play a second time, you know Bird's busting out the epic call. #NETSonYES pic.twitter.com/FydFp4gG1B
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) November 7, 2018
Possessions like the one above from Ed Davis and Spencer Dinwiddie were crucial in carving out the early lead that the Nets would ride for the rest of the game. When the shots started falling in the second half, it was smooth sailing. From Caris LeVert to Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets took turns exploiting the soft, unattentive Suns defense time and time again.
Surprisingly enough, the main reason for the game never being hotly contested is the improved defense from the Nets. This was another game where Brooklyn shot significantly worse from the three-point line than their opponent but made up for it with fewer turnovers and more offensive rebounds.
While this is unexpected, it is not unwelcome. A Brooklyn Nets squad that plays decent defense and hits their shots is good enough to sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. As of this second, the Nets sit in 7th place — so, all in all, we’ll take that without issue.
In the end, the score of this game would lead you to believe that it was closer than it really was. The Nets were comfortably in control and would have turned this into a blowout if they had converted more on their high percentage opportunities. This is exactly the type of win that the fans wanted to see before heading into their tougher matchups on this road trip — Denver and Golden State. Gulp.
The stats: 10 PTS, 4-7 FG, 9 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO
Jarrett Allen stepped onto the court with a fire burning in his belly.
He was not afraid to go at the Suns, even with No. 1 overall pick Deandre Ayton in the paint. After showing that he was effectively able to score in the paint, he used that to open up space for his teammates, giving him five easy assists on the night — tied with Shabazz Napier for most on the team.
The area where he impressed most though was defense. Tonight we got a glimpse of how potent the Nets’ defense can really be as Allen continues to grow into his role as a potential defensive anchor. He was rarely caught in the wrong spot and even jumped some passing lanes to disrupt plays. With Nikola Jokic and Draymond Green up next, this was an important confidence booster all-around.
The stats: 11 PTS, 5-11 FG, 1-6 3PT, 1 AST, 1 BLK
Joe Harris did not shoot well tonight.
Wow, it’s been a while since anyone has said that, huh?
It was inevitable. While Lumber Joe is an incredibly valuable player, it’s unrealistic to expect him to continue to shoot the three ball at the insane 60% that he was prior to tonight. The good news is that even while his stroke was off, he found other ways to be productive on the court. His drives to the basket and defense were both effective, ultimately rewarding with him the highest plus-minus on the team — plus-23.
The stats: 26 PTS, 10-16 FG, 3-6 3PT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO
Caris LeVert keeps on showing us new aspects of his game.
Anyone who has been following the Nets this season knows that Caris LeVert has been their offensive star and frequent first option. While that was still true tonight, LeVert was also a defensive highlight reel.
He had his work cut out for him as the primary defender of Devin Booker, but he delivered and then some. Clearly, #AStarIsBorn should’ve been about LeVert — I mean, my word.
NOT ON CARIS ✋ https://t.co/rTV9Khep1p
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 7, 2018
The stats: 7 PTS, 3-12 FG, 1-5 3PT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO
While it may not show in the box score, Allen Crabbe was much improved from his previous outing.
He continues to struggle in finding his shot. Tonight, however, he made up for that with immense energy and effort. He played suffocating defense and showed no hesitation in hustling for 50-50 plays, usually coming up on the right side of them. Once the three-point stroke comes back, the Nets will hit another gear.