The Brooklyn Nets are fading fast and, after their 108-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Mikal Bridges is laying the blame.
“I don’t know. They went off. They started off strong,” Bridges said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “Personally I take a lot of blame, because I was just poor on the defensive end. Obviously I was missing shots early, but that comes with the game. Just missing, that’s just part of it; but I can control playing defense.
“So that’s what messed me up right now, and that’s on me.
Bridges’ assignments went 7-for-12 from the floor, per NBA.com matchup data. Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon did the bulk of that damage going 3-for-4 for six points. He posted a defensive rating of 126 which.
Per Basketball Reference, it is his eighth time posting a rating worse than 115 since joining the Nets who are 2-6 in those instances.
“I’ve just got to be more locked in on that side of the ball,” he said. “If you’re messing up, and you’ve got four guys out there and one guy’s messing up, it’s going to be tough, especially against a real good team like Denver. Everybody else was pretty much good; I’ve just got to be better for sure.”
The Nets’ potential next cornerstone still finished the game with a team-high 23 points one assist and one rebound, though he also turned the ball over four times matching his season-high for the fifth time total and second time since coming over.
He is not alone in lamenting the team’s struggles of late, especially after they shot just 34% from beyond the arc versus Denver.
“The frustrating thing is just when [shots] don’t go in,” said Bridges’ friend and teammate Cameron Johnson via the YES Network’s YouTube channel. “They felt good. I’m sure everybody who shot them thought they felt good today. They’re just not going in right now. I can only speak for myself personally,” Johnson said. “It’s life as a basketball player…But we can’t let them affect us on the defensive end and continue to shoot them when we get those opportunities.”
Unfortunately, scoring and defense still are not Brooklyn’s only question areas.
Jacque Vaughn Laments Nets Rebounding
“The scouting report says to try to go offensive rebound versus the Nets,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said via YES Network after the game. “We have to understand that and really do a diligent job of trying to do it together. We can’t do it with two people or three people. We show clips at halftime where literally we need all five people to come back and get a piece of somebody.”
Vaughn’s comments are very much in line with what breakout big man Nic Claxton had to say after their loss to the Sacramento Kings on March 16.
“I just think all five guys just need to do a better job participating,” Claxton said in a video posted to Twitter by SportsNet New York. “We all gotta make sure we’re hitting somebody. It can’t just be 2 guys. it needs to be a five-guy effort.”
Brooklyn is 29th in total rebounding but, surprisingly, is 19th in defensive rebounding checking in 30th on their offensive glass. They also rank 30th in second-chance points while allowing the fifth-most second-chance points on the other end.
Nets Can Give Cavs a Test Run
Cavs beat reporter Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported that some within the organization are hoping to draw Brooklyn in the first round of the playoffs.
“Multiple people I’ve spoken to recently are privately hoping for a Brooklyn matchup,” writes Fedor noting, “It’s easy to understand why. Even though the Cavs, with home-court advantage, would likely be capable of competing — and possibly winning — a seven-game series against any of the teams currently behind them in the standings, the Nets would be Cleveland’s easiest path out of round one.”
With a Cavs frontcourt of former Net Jarrett Allen and emerging big man Evan Mobley, and the Nets rebounding issues, that may be a matchup they want to avoid. But the Nets are 2-1 against the Cavs this season and will face them twice in three days for their next challenge.