Don’t look now, but the Nets position in the standings has taken an interesting turn over the past week. After falling to the Denver Nuggets — their second loss in as many days — the Nets are only a few losses away from falling into a play-in spot in the Eastern Conference.
Thus putting more importance on the five-game road trip that Brooklyn is set to embark on starting on Saturday at Golden State. The Nets are in need of a few wins in a row to get back on track and to clean up the defensive lapses that cost them, especially with Kevin Durant out for a significant amount of time.
Since Durant went down with a sprained MCL, the Nets have won just two of their last six games and have suffered some tough losses. They had one of their worst defensive efforts last Sunday in Minnesota, giving up a season-high in points, and lost back-to-back games at the Barclays Center Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Nets played against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday with none of their “Big 3” on the court and gave the midwest visitors a much closer battle than many had expected.
Now headed back out on the road, Brooklyn will need to take advantage of their success on the road, which has even taken a hit as of late. The Nets still own one of the best road records in the Association at 17-6 and they’ll have the services of Kyrie Irving available to them once again.
James Harden could be back on the hardwood as well on Saturday, after missing Wednesday’s game with tightness in his left hamstring, but that won’t be guaranteed.
The biggest issue the Nets will focus on will be their attention to detail. It was what head coach Steve Nash highlighted as to why Brooklyn couldn’t close the gap on Wednesday when they cut the Nuggets lead to just three late in the fourth.
Forward DeAndre’ Bembry also took note of it.
“More so attention to detail depending on who we’re playing that night,” Bembry said. “We have a lot of guys that can go out there and play. As you can see we were up, was down and came back into the game. It’s more so just attention to detail. Obviously, Kyrie will be back with us and that will be helpful. Not sure when James is coming back. … Everyone on this team knows their strengths and we kind of stick to it.”
The Nets season has been filled with its share of twists and turns. From an injury to sharpshooter Joe Harris, COVID running rampant among the team in December, the drama that has come with the return of Irving and the injury to Durant. Then, of course, there were the week-long rumors about Philadelphia’s planned pursuit of Harden and the report of the superstar’s frustration with the Nets.
Harden essentially denied the report, but acknowledged his frustration over how the season has gone.
Weathering the storm while Durant is out and any other injuries that may arise is the name of the game for Brooklyn now. The good news is that the Nets show a lot of grit in their loss to the Nuggets
Players that had been primarily used as role players stepped up when they were called upon. Starting Saturday they’ll get some reinforcements back into the lineup as well.
As the Nets have navigated the chaos and injuries, one thing has stayed the same. How the coaching staff has operated.
“I think for me as coach, for us as coaches, we stay with what we do,” Nash said. “We still try to prepare the team. We still try to create the element and improvements and have a growth mindset for our squad. The goal is to continue to move this thing forward. Win or lose are we learning more about ourselves, more about each other and refining our details. If we do, when we get bodies back we’ll be in a better place for it. We’ll have learned something about ourselves and we’ll be able to say that this time was not wasted.”