Here are five thoughts from the Nets much needed win over the Pelicans at Barclays Center on Monday night.
Continuity, Chemistry and Time
Both the Pelicans and the Nets are struggling in the early part of the season. The head coaches and systems have been in place but there was an influx of new players and talent over the summer and it’s a slow build to get everyone on the same page.
Before and after every game, win or lose, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson preaches patience. The team hasn’t had enough time yet to “gel” and get everyone comfortable with their assignments within the team’s structure.
The same is true of Pelicans.
Head coach Alvin Gentry talked about the challenges of working in so many new players into the system so that they can get reps and become more comfortable.
— Jarod Hector (@jshector) November 5, 2019
While it is “early,” 10 games become 20 very quickly, and that’s a quarter of the season. It’s important that the right habits are being built as the team learns and grows more comfortable with each other off the court.
The Nets will embark on a five game road trip beginning in Portland on Friday. The rest of their games will be against the Suns, Jazz, Nuggets and Bulls. There are no “automatic wins” on that schedule. Not even against the Suns, who beat the previously unbeaten 76ers on Monday, or the Bulls who are only 2-5 but playing tough.
This early trip will be crucial to the Nets on court chemistry and team continuity. There will be two full practice days before they leave for coach Kenny Atkinson and the staff to drill and preach concepts. How the team emerges following this road trip will be very telling.
As a continuation of the last thought, the road is all about team camaraderie and guys bonding. When a team is on the road, all they have is each other. The continued development and strengthening of relationships will happen on this road trip.
One thing that is pretty obvious, is the bench mob is still here for all the team celebrations during games. Theo Pinson is still the leader of that crew. But he has a new wingman, in the form of injured superstar Kevin Durant.
KD can be seen on the bench, cheering exuberantly when guys make good plays. Even poking fun at some of his teammates if their finishes at the rim aren’t up to par, or reveling in their basketball ability.
This may not seem like a big deal to the casual observer. But it is huge.
As Detroit Pistons legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas once famously said, “the secret of basketball is it’s not about basketball.”
Guys don’t all need to be best friends and hanging out with each other 24/7 but for a team to reach its apex, there must be a camaraderie and an understanding between one another.
A basketball team is an intimate work environment. If there is a negative atmosphere, or guys don’t like being around one another, and are not invested in each other’s success, the team has no chance.
In the Nets locker room after the game, as he was getting ready to speak to the media, Kyrie saw teammate Caris LeVert heading to his locker. Irving starts singing:
“The Roc Boys in the building tonight
Oh what a feeling, I’m feeling life..”
LeVert looked back at Irving and smiled.
Those of course are the opening lines to Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys.” Irving and LeVert are both clients of Roc Nation Sports, the hip-hop mogul’s sports agency.
Good signs in Brooklyn so far…
Over or under 50 wedgies this season? pic.twitter.com/hHk8GP1tae
— No Dunks (@NoDunksInc) November 5, 2019
KD was everyone after Kyrie’s sick step-back 😆
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) November 5, 2019
Brandon Ingram will be an all-star…
Soon. Maybe this season.
He scored 40 points on Monday night on 17-24 from the field. Nobody on the Nets had an answer for him. He was cooking, especially in the midrange. Ingram was 13-18 on 2s outside of the restricted area.
He’s the 9th Pelicans player ever to score 40, joining Anthony Davis (30), Chris Paul (5,) David West (5), DeMarcus Cousins (5), Jamal Mashburn (2), Tyreke Evans (1),Julius Randle (1) and Peja (1) Stojakovic (1).
His talent was clear the moment he stepped in the league. There were unfair comparisons to Kevin Durant and unfulfilled expectations.
Ingram is only in his fourth season in the league and is only 23 years old. He showed on Monday night why he has the goods to be an all-star in this league.
Free from the bright lights of Hollywood and the looming presence of LeBron James and a title push has freed Ingram up to start this season. He is averaging just under 26 points per game, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 55/48/74 shooting splits.
— Jarod Hector (@jshector) November 5, 2019
Nets’ Third Quarter Defense
In a word, atrocious.
Brooklyn gave up 48 points to New Orleans in that quarter, and the Pelicans shot 65%.
In his postgame comments Atkinson said the Pelicans were making tough shots in that quarter and it wasn’t completely bad defense.
Maybe it’s a combination of both. But there was certainly poor things happening on the defensive end of the floor.
The Pelicans had some wide open shots and there were some communication breakdowns and missed assignments.
This team’s defensive principles and effort are things Atkinson and his staff will focus on over the next few days. They play well on that end of the floor in spurts, but need to put it together for an entire game.
The Nets had 23 turnovers on Monday night and many of them were live ball turnovers, leading to 32 points scored by the Pelicans.
Some of that is the lack of familiarity. This team is still working on their on court chemistry as discussed.
But some of it is just unexcusable bad play and execution.
The Nets have Tuesday off before two days of practice and then a flight out to the west coast. Their next game is Friday night in Portland against the Trail Blazers.