Nets Open Season With A Bang Behind Irving, Durant

A+

Final: 12/22/2020

W 125 99

The Brooklyn Nets had a message for the rest of the NBA during their season-opener on Tuesday: We’re here, we’re quick and we mean business. 

In a game they led by as many as 38 points, the Nets defeated the Warriors 125-99 at a fan-less Barclays Center. Outside a brief two-point lead for Golden State in the opening minutes, the game was all Nets–and it got out of hand quickly. 

A 40-point first quarter by Brooklyn set the tone for the night. The game opened in a fitting way–with buckets by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant scored 10 points in his first five minutes while Irving had a team-high 17 in the first quarter. (Oh, and a bomb to end the first half.)

Brooklyn’s pace and unselfish nature were on display in their high-performing offense as the team shot 45.7% from the field. The Nets forced 18 turnovers and racked up 28 fastbreak points on the night while totaling 24 assists. 

One game is a small sample size, but the “wow” factor was in effect seeing Brooklyn’s depth at work. The ball-handling duties were balanced well between Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert, who came off the bench, while Durant added some pretty passes himself. There was little drop-off felt between the starters and bench unit, who added 54 points as all active players got a chance to hit the floor. 

In the paint, the Nets notched 46 points while DeAndre Jordan led the way with 11 boards in 17 minutes. 

The Warriors, who were without Draymond Green, struggled from the field throughout the night, shooting just 37.4%. Stephen Curry led the team with a 20-point, 10-assist double-double. 

Though they won handily, the Nets still had their sloppy moments. The team followed up its 40-point first quarter with a 23-point second frame, largely due to 13 first-half turnovers. Brooklyn took better care of the ball in the second half, though, turning it over seven times.

Game 1 of the season was just as Nets fans expected and had been waiting for: A lot of fun. Durant and Irving combined for 48 points while LeVert added 20 off the bench. The Steve Nash-led group seems to have a good grasp of individual roles and overall goals. 

Next up, we will see if the good times can continue to roll on Christmas Day. 

Kevin Durant

A+

The stats: 22 PTS, 7-16 FG, 1-2 3PM, 7-7 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 25 MIN

You could not have asked much more from Kevin Durant for his first game as a Brooklyn Net. 

Durant did a little bit of everything, from drawing contact to setting up teammates and forcing steals. If Durant showed any rust, it was on his finishes at the rim during his drives. Other than that, his shot was smooth and he was not lacking aggression. 

It will take a while to be able to watch Durant take a fall without being immediately nervous, but it is fun watching him work. He started the game with a quick offensive burst and the Nets never looked back. 

Kyrie Irving

A+

The stats: 26 PTS, 10-16 FG, 4-7 3PM, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 4 AST, 1 TO, 25 MIN

Kyrie Irving got his work done quickly, scoring 17 in the first quarter and 24 in the first half.

After setting the early pace, Kyrie was money from the field and took care of the ball, committing just one turnover. He also had the team-high for three-pointers with four (we can watch that near-half-court shot over and over).

Brooklyn’s speed was largely built off Kyrie pushing the ball with each possession. The Nets seem to have found a good formula with Kyrie starting at point and Caris LeVert coming off the bench–and Irving’s handles do not hurt, either. 

Caris LeVert

A+

The stats: 20 PTS, 6-17 FG, 3-5 3PM, 5-6 FT, 9 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 25 MIN

It may be an adjustment for Caris LeVert to come off the bench, but he did not miss a beat on Tuesday. 

LeVert had his fingerprints all over the game, rounding out Brooklyn’s offensive trifecta alongside Durant and Irving and leading the bench unit. LeVert nearly recorded a double-double on rebounds and added a team-high five assists. 

Offensively, LeVert showed off his release, getting off some quick three-pointers throughout the night. It seems as LeVert is prepared to make opponents pay for their mistakes this season, and that will become a larger threat if he remains a sixth man.

Joe Harris

A

The stats: 10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-5 3PM, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 21 MIN

Fresh off a newly-signed contract, Joe Harris continued to show off his versatility in Brooklyn’s scheme. 

Spin-cycle Joe was in effect as he was all over the court, hustling for second chances. It is expected that he will not get as many offensive opportunities as his Durant and Irving, but his presence is effective in spreading the floor and being active on defense. 

Harris did quick work with a near double-double and has room to grow in finding his way alongside the starting unit. 

Spencer Dinwiddie

B

The stats: 9 PTS, 2-6 FG, 1-3 3PM, 4-4 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, 3 TO, 20 MIN

Spencer Dinwiddie had a rougher start to the game while adjusting to a largely off-ball role, but he found his groove as the night went on. 

Starting alongside Irving, Dinwiddie missed some of his earlier shots but was more aggressive with later opportunities. He was able to connect with teammates outside his three turnovers and added a strong defensive presence against Stephen Curry. 

Dinwiddie brings plenty of versatility for Brooklyn with his play-making and shot-making abilities, and he will be an important tool for the team as it progresses and learns its identity. 

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