Brooklyn Nets

Nets survive road trip to finish week 3-1

The Brooklyn Nets survived the week on the road as they went on a three-game winning streak, only for it to be snapped by the Boston Celtics. However, the Nets looked confident and played well even without their starters Cam Johnson and Nicolas Claxton. The Nets found a way to squeeze out three straight victories as they sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference as of November 5th.

Nets visit Charlotte, Oct. 30

The Nets started off strong in their Monday matchup against the Charlotte Hornets in a 133-121 victory as they grabbed their first win of the season. Missing Johnson and Claxton because of injuries, the Nets had to resort to a small ball lineup. This lineup was not a detriment to the Nets as they opened up with a  big first quarter jumping out to a 21-point lead. The Nets continued to dominate throughout as the small ball lineup left the Hornets defense exposed, unsure of handling the spacing of the Nets and unable to stop drives from guys like Cam Thomas and Mikal Bridges. The Hornets struggled to score with Hornets’ superstar LaMelo Ball scoring only eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. Charlotte coach Steve Clifford attributed the poor shot selection that Ball and the rest of the Hornets squad were having that night to the tough game against Brooklyn. The Nets happily took the win for the night, and were able to bring that energy into their next game. 

Thomas was the leading scorer for the Nets with 33 points on 10-of-17 from the field, with Mikal Bridges grabbing 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field, along with seven rebounds and four assists. Dorian Finney-Smith had 19 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks, and Ben Simmons had a double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds, along with 8 assists.

For the Hornets, Terry Rozier had 23 points and nine assists, Mark Williams had 18 points and seven rebounds and P.J. Washington had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Off the bench, rookie Brandon Miller had 22 points and 9 assists. 

Nets Hit South Beach Against Heat, Nov. 1

The Nets were able to take down a struggling Miami Heat team in a close 109-105 victory to make it the Nets’ second win in a row. The Heat are not having a good start to the season, as they started the Nets’ game with a 1-3 record and attribute their losses on not being able to hold on to big leads. They lost a 13-point lead to the Boston Celtics in their matchup, and against the Nets on Wednesday, where they led by as much as 15 points in the first half. The Heat held the game to a 56-46 lead but struggled to keep the double-digit lead during the second half of play. The Nets bench outscored the Heat bench 50-26 by the end of the game, showing the possible lack of depth on the Heat roster as an underlying factor in their miserable start. The Nets also had help in their win tonight when they brought up Armoni Brooks from Brooklyn's G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, to fill the roster. Brooks managed to score 17 points while given just 16 minutes of playtime and was lights out. While the Heat are not having a good start to the season, Wednesday’s game showed that the Nets can stand toe-to-toe with the top teams and could be a dark horse play-in pick by April, but it’s a little too early to tell now.

Bridges led the Nets in scoring with 21 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, with Finney-Smith behind with 15 points. Off the bench, both Walker IV and Brooks had 17 points each.

Tyler Herro led the Heat with 30 points and five assists, while Bam Adebayo had a double-double with  21 points and 14 rebounds.

Nets vs. Bulls in inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, Nov. 3

On Friday, Brooklyn gained their third straight win in a thrilling 109-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls. This win was a special one for the Nets as it was their first win that accounts for the In-Season Tournament. Neither team led by more than 10 points, making the game quite close throughout. Finney-Smith helped lead the team with his efficient scoring and shooting 5-of-9 from the three-point line. While the Bulls had a better opportunity to win the game with their chances at the free-throw line, the Bulls could not sink important free throws in crucial moments of the game, such as a missed free-throw by Zach LaVine that would have put the Bulls down by one. Despite the opportunities the Bulls had, the Nets were able to hold it down and gain their third straight win. The Nets were able to clutch a close win over the Bulls and go 3-1 on the road this past week. 

Finney-Smith led the way with 21 points, with Bridges backing up with 20 points of his own.

For the Bulls, LaVine and DeMar DeRozan each led with 24 points while Nikola Vucevic had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Nets Back At Home Against Undefeated Celtics, Nov. 4

The Nets could not put a stop to the ongoing streak of the Boston Celtics in a 124-114 loss that put the Nets at .500 with a 3-3 record. The Nets were without Simmons on Saturday night and while they were able to stand toe-to-toe with the Celtics in the first quarter, tied at 34, they could not catch up to Boston down the stretch in the second half of the second quarter. They could not put a stop to the scoring prowess of Jayson Tatum, along with Kristaps Porzingis and Jaylen Brown who outscored the Nets, 21 to 10, in the final five minutes of the second quarter to put the Celtics up 70 to 58 to end the half. Jrue Holiday also played a big factor with running the point as he had 10 assists for the night and that he plays a big importance in the Celtics’ current win streak. However, the Nets were able to put up a 30-21 run in the third quarter and cut down their deficit. The run, led by Thomas and Dinwiddie, pulled the Nets to within one at 96-95 after a Dennis Smith Jr. three-pointer in the fourth quarter. The Celtics put an end to the Nets’ chances of winning in a sudden 14-4 run that made the game out of reach, and extended their streak to 5-0. 

Thomas led Brooklyn with 27 points and five assists and Dinwiddie had 19 points, six rebounds, and six assists, Bridges added had 19 points along with six rebounds and Finney-Smith had 14 points and eight rebounds. 

Tatum had a double-double for the Celtics with 32 points and 11 rebounds and Brown finished with 23 points. 

Brooklyn have been doing better than expected. Being able to stand toe-to-toe with the number one seeded team in the Eastern Conference is no easy task, especially with two starters out in Nicolas Claxton and Cam Johnson. This Nets team has good chemistry and can play well together. Guys like Dorian Finney-Smith and Cam Thomas help take the offensive load off of Mikal Bridges and all three guys can put up 20 or more a night. What’s lacking for the Nets is not only a superstar-level player, but defense as well.

The Nets have trouble trying to stop the superstars of other teams such as Jayson Tatum and Zach LaVine, but that could be in part because Nicolas Claxton is out. When Claxton does return to the roster, there’s likely going to be an immediate change on the defensive end for the Nets, and in a positive way as well.