November schedule presents challenge for shorthanded Nets

Photo courtesy YES Network
Photo courtesy YES Network

The first three weeks of the NBA season are in the books, with the Brooklyn Nets holding a 3-5 record on a three-game losing streak heading into their first November matchup. That is of course far from great, and the road to get above the .500 mark only gets tougher from here.

If you thought the blowout loss to the New York Knicks or fourth quarter meltdown against the Phoenix Suns on Halloween were nightmarish enough (they kind of were), then the Nets’ November schedule will only frighten you more.

When in November…

In November, the Nets will be on the road for all but four of their games. It is really the first major, extended road trip of the season for Brooklyn, and it comes only eight games into the year. This month’s games include matchups against some of the Western Conference’s toughest opponents, including the Portland Trail Blazers (twice), Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets.

Just on paper, none of those opponents appear to be easy victories for the Nets. But, if it makes you any feel better (or maybe it won’t), Brooklyn faces the Cavaliers once again this month. Cleveland ironically has the same, bleak 3-5 record and is on a four-game losing streak. One of those losses came against Brooklyn, and the Cavs will be seeking revenge against the Nets on Nov. 22 in their own turf.

The only other Eastern Conference team the Nets will challenge in November is the Boston Celtics, and that will likely not be a walk in the park. However, it could be argued Oct. 25 was not anticipated to result in a win for the Nets, especially with that game being the second half of a back-to-back.

It may be too soon to discount the Nets, but either way, this month will be the first true test of the season for Brooklyn.

Sure, October was no breeze, with the Nets losing Jeremy Lin only 43 minutes into the season, and D’Angelo Russell, DeMarre Carroll, Quincy Acy and Jarrett Allen battling minor injuries of their own. On the other hand, not many of Brooklyn’s foes were extremely difficult matchups; the Nets just did not come out on top. The contests against the Magic, Knicks and Suns were certainly winnable solely from the basis of the stigmas associated with those teams. Two of the three turned out to be tight games, with the Nets’ fourth-quarter woes squandering the team.

Crazy how if things turned out differently in all three of these games, the Nets would have a 6-2 record, eh? Unfortunately, they are stuck at two games below the .500 mark at the beginning of the new month.

Help wanted

The injury report for the Nets’ first November game against the Lakers, though brief, also shines light on part of Brooklyn’s issues as of late. Quincy Acy will miss his third consecutive game with a left groin strain, and rookie Jarrett Allen is marked as questionable with a left foot strain. Allen was already sidelined for the last contest of October, the Nets’ loss to Phoenix.

With the possibility of not having three players (including Lin) suited up, “shorthanded” is an accurate adjective that describes this team. It was a common thread last season, and only eight games into 2017-18, it is plaguing Brooklyn once again.

“Shorthanded” is putting it kindly for the Nets’ bigs situation. Though the Nets were slowly working Allen into the rotation before he became sidelined, he is one of few “true” bigs Brooklyn has relied on. Tyler Zeller has been taking some of Allen’s minutes in the rookie’s absence, but it is still unclear where he falls into the Nets’ long-term plans. The Nets have shown it is not conceivable to count on small ball every night (especially against New York and Denver), though the lack of depth provides them with not too many options.

The timing could not have been any worse for Brooklyn, with players going down, and the icing on the cake being a road trip so soon into the season.

13 games in 30 days. Three back-to-backs. Two back-to-backs in one week. It will absolutely be a challenge, and Brooklyn better “go hard.”