In early December, exactly 8 games into Kiki’s tenure as head coach, we looked at his team’s playing style. A style that was completely different to what Lawrence Frank was doing. If you don’t feel like going back through the post, here is the spreadsheet:
I thought it would be fun to revisit this. So here is the data from all of Kiki’s games:
The Turning Point
The stretch of six games that I highlighted is what I am calling the “turning point.” In my opinion, this “turning point” was a culmination of Kiki’s insistence of running and gunning. As you guys are all probably well aware, when Kiki took over, he emphasized offense and downplayed the defense. While the team was better on the offensive end, the offense wasn’t (and still isn’t) even close to good enough to keep up with other teams. The Nets got blown out big time each game that I highlighted in red (their closest game was an 11 point loss against the Clippers). They fewest points they gave up in this stretch was 106.
I think after the final lost (a 33 point loss at Utah), Kiki took a step back. He finally decided to give up on his dream of having the Nets outscoring teams, and he changed up the style of play. In their last 5 games, they really slowed things down. Their highest Pace (number of possessions per game) was 95. This is slightly lower than the league’s average pace. So is it working? I say that it is. Not only is the Nets’ offense better when the pace is slower (they seem more comfortable in halfcourt sets instead of running), but the defense is too. With less possessions out there, there are fewer opportunities for the opposing offense to score on the Nets defense. Granted, the Nets have played some pretty offensively challenged teams during this stretch (and when they played some good teams, the defensive efficiency shot back up), but this could be very interesting to keep an eye on going forward.
I guess what the numbers are telling us is something we already know. That the Nets are better when they slow things down and run their offense in the halfcourt. If they are able to limit opponent possessions moving forward, this will help their defense immensely. Hopefully this 5 game stretch isn’t a fluke, and the Nets are now using a slower style of basketball to try and get some wins.