The Brooklyn Nets have asserted themselves as a serious contender for the NBA championship this year. Currently sitting at second in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn leads the NBA in points per game (121.2) and offensive rating (118.2).
Still, the offense of the red-hot Nets was not enough though to stop Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs destroyed Brooklyn on Saturday 115-98, stopping James Harden and the streaking Nets dead in their tracks.
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Rick Carlisle Sounds off on Nets Talent
Long-time Mavs coach Rick Carlisle recognizes that Brooklyn was missing some core players. The championship coach also understands that when the Nets are at full strength, they are one of the most lethal teams to play against.
“You look at Kyrie, Durant, Harden, Dinwiddie is out and is an all-star caliber talent. So, they’re up there with the best of them. I don’t like absolute statements because you piss off other teams you play,” Carlisle said via One37PM’s Landon Buford.
Carlisle on if @BrooklynNets most lethal team ever:
“You look at Kyrie, Durant, Harden, Dinwiddie is out and is an all star caliber talent. So, their up there with the best of them. I don’t like absolute statements because you piss off other teams you play.”#BrooklynTogether pic.twitter.com/E8LurkkKZi
— Landon Buford (@LandonBuford) February 28, 2021
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Nets Not Making Excuses for Themselves
Brooklyn was short on options in the loss, playing without superstars Kevin Durant who remains out with a strained hamstring, and Kyrie Irving who sat out to manage his surgically repaired shoulder.
Still, the active Nets players will not attribute the blowout loss to lack of depth. Veterans like Brooklyn’s forward Jeff Green are building the Nets’ culture in the direction of a team that does not make excuses.
“This is a no-excuse team,” Green said after Saturday’s loss via NetsDaily.
“If you are on the floor, you are going to play as hard as you can. They just got the best of us tonight and they got the win. That’s all it really was. It’s not about us running out of gas. We just didn’t come ready to play and they won.”
This Year Is Championship or Bust for Brooklyn
This year is a championship or bust year for this Nets team, after the blockbuster trade they made to acquire James Harden. Green spoke about dealing with the expectations everyone has of them winning it all this year.
“We wouldn’t want it no other way,” Green said via NetsDaily.
“That shows that we have what it takes. We believe we have the team that can win it all.”
Nets’ head coach Steve Nash was already aware of expectations at the beginning of the year before the team had three all-stars in Irving, Harden, and Durant.
“We’re playing for a championship,” Nash said during a virtual town hall in late October via NBA.com.
“I don’t want to say anything less than a championship isn’t a success … but we are playing for a championship, and we are going to build accordingly.”
This is only Nash’s first year coaching, but it is obvious that he has faith in his squad and their ability to win it all come the postseason. For now, though, if they want to keep up those high expectations, role players are going to have to step up in the absence of Irving and Durant.