In “Fansided,” via Microsoft News, Mark Powell reports on the new Brooklyn Nets. Though the team is scoring with their “Big 3” of Harden, Durant, and Irving, the team over the last few games is giving up a lot of points. As an ex-coach at the High School and College levels, I know how frustrating it can be when strategies within systems don’t work. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in the basket…and the Coach cannot put it in the hoop for them. But there are things you can do at the defensive end that can produce immediate results. And, I’m sure Coach Nash is exploring them. For one, defense should be consistent…you don’t have the ball so in essence, it should be easy to shut down a player, or a team. Defense is all about attitude…what you tell yourself when you are guarding an opponent like, “I’m not going to let my guy get the ball” (denial), or “I’m going to think drive first, and pull-up jumper second” will help a defender by becoming pro-active instead of reactive. Positioning is huge, especially fundamentally. If your opponent has the ball, we always taught to force them to the corner (lowest percentage shot in the game) – do NOT let them attack the middle where they have multiple options. Off the ball, your teammates should be in “Help” which involves proper positioning fundamentally – like you’re playing a zone – especially setting teammates “2 passes away” from the ball, in the middle of the key clogging up the middle. Psychologically, and visually, to the opponent ball-handler, it looks like there is no lane to drive, or to pass to a cutter heading to the basket. Finally, playing good defense and shutting a team down is mindset. If you have the attitude that you are going to shut down a team, and fastbreak off of their missed shots, and turnovers, it’s going to be a long night for your opponent, and a lot of fun for your team. I’m sure Coach Nash and the Nets will come together “completely” with interim steps. The coaching staff is I’m sure currently assessing where they are in all aspects of their play. And, will make adjustments in the parts of their play that needs it. Sometimes you need to lose to win. Here’s the report:
While these Cleveland Cavaliers are no slouches — especially with the emergence of Collin Sexton in recent games — the Nets were expected to be among the Eastern Conference’s elite when they traded for James Harden, previously a star for the Houston Rockets.
Thus far, it hasn’t been without bumps in the road. With just Harden and Kevin Durant, who have familiarity playing with one another due to their early Oklahoma City days, the Nets performed admirably, even beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Kyrie Irving in the fold, the Nets are 0-2, with both losses coming against the Cavs.
Nash thinks the team needs to re-dedicate themselves on the defensive end
In two games with Irving, the Nets have given up 147 (2OT) and 125 points. Heck, even before Irving joined them, the Nets allowed 115 points to the Magic and 123 to the Bucks, both in narrow victories. While the modern NBA does have plenty of scoring, no team in recent memory has struggled this much on the defensive end and made a Finals run. At some point, a defensive presence and commitment to stopping opponents must be established.
“We’re not a defensive roster, we have to take more pride and we have to win more 50-50s, contest more shots, fight, scrap, claw. And that’s what I think is missing as much as anything schematic that we’re breaking down,” Nash said, per the New York Post’s Brian Lewis, following the latest defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers.
The former league MVP is absolutely right in this regard. While he himself wasn’t exactly known for his ability on the defensive end of the floor, the likes of the Lakers and/or Bucks will tear this Nets team apart in a seven-game playoff series should they not learn to work together and compete defensively. With three stars in tow — two of which in Irving and Harden that aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess — that’s a tough ask.
Harden demanded a deal to Brooklyn to compete for a championship. It’s early, and the kinks will be worked out over the course of the long season. But should they wish to take the jump from League Pass All-Stars to NBA Title favorite, they’ll need to prove they can remain as committed as defense as they are to upping their scoring averages.
- Mark Powell