When it’s come to health this year, the Nets have not had their share of luck. But now it seems that things may finally be turning the corner.
Goran Dragic and Seth Curry were both back on the floor Saturday night in Miami, LaMarcus Aldridge is getting ready to return and the Nets had one of their best performances of the season against the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat over the weekend. Even just a few weeks ago it was hard to imagine so many positive things happening for Brooklyn in a row.
Add on top of that the return of a full-time Kyrie Irving and perhaps a glimmer of hope that things with Ben Simmons are starting to go in the right direction. YES Network’s Michael Grady reported on Saturday that Simmons’ pain which had been in his lower back and into his legs had been localized to just the back.
“It’s huge,” Seth Curry told Newsday about the growing health of the team. “Hopefully we get some continuity there, figure out how we’re going to play as a team every night. And obviously it makes us a better team at home and helps us win some games at home.”
That has been the Nets’ biggest issue during, what can only be described as, one of the wackiest seasons for the organization. The constant roster flux has made it hard for Brooklyn to play its brand of basketball, which has resulted in its current position in the standings.
Head coach Steve Nash has pushed for his team to play well on both ends of the floor with strong defense leading to offensive opportunities. The defense has not been one of the Nets’ strong suits, but the team has shown flashes of what they can do.
Shutdown efforts against Philadelphia and Charlotte have shown that the pieces were there for the Nets to be successful. Saturday night in Miami was another one as well.
“You could see the energy and commitment,” Nash said. “For me, it’s great when we can turn defense to offense. We can be punishing in transition but it’s really about getting stops. That’s the No. 1 thing. We don’t have to force a lot of turnovers. It’s more about that commitment, that physicality, and finishing possessions with rebounds. If we happen to get steals on the night and run out and score, that’s a bonus but we’re really looking for that commitment, that physicality, and that purpose defensively. When we do that, we’re a different team.”
The question now becomes, will the Nets find that consistency.
Brooklyn is down to just seven games left in the regular season after Sunday. They’ll play every other night essentially for the last two weeks of the season and that could make the difference from having to play in the play-in round or not.
The Nets made a statement with their play against Miami, but the team is well aware that one big win needs to be kept in perspective of the bigger picture.
“We’re not a team that’s going to get big-headed,” Andre Drummond said. “Obviously, it was a great win for us tonight. We know we’re a long way from where we need to be. We have a lot of work to do, but tonight is a great sign of what we can be. We just have to build on it and build consistency.”