After a turbulent start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets have won eight of their last nine games and are a half-game back of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. But perhaps their most impressive win during this recent stretch came in their bout against the Indiana Pacers on December 10. Without several of their key players including All-Stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons, the Nets were able to escape with a 136-133 victory.
NBA insider Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports suggests that the Nets sitting so many of their players is part of a bigger plan for their general manager, Sean Marks, with the February trade deadline approaching.
“Don’t look at the Nets [and think] that because they played those eight guys that Sean Marks doesn’t have something up his sleeve,” Robinson told Sandeep Chandok on December 12. “You don’t know what’s in his deck of cards, but ultimately the Nets were showcasing talent on that squad and that’s the talk in Nets land.”
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Durant Sounds off on Nets Defense
One thing that can be attributed to the Nets’ winning streak is their attention to detail on the defensive side of the ball. For the ninth straight game Brooklyn has held their opponent to 116 points or less.
The offense has never been the issue for this stacked Nets squad, but during the Durant and Kyrie era, the defense has seemed to remain an Achilles heel. And as displayed in last year’s first-round matchup against the Boston Celtics, commitment on the defensive end can be the difference in winning or losing a series. Durant says that the Nets’ desire to make defense a part of their identity has made all the difference.
“I think we figured out what type of team we want to be on that side of the ball. We continue to keep trusting each other on the offensive end and feed on our defense. We take efficient shots. I think we’re an efficient ballclub on the offensive side of the ball, too, so that helps our defense,” Durant told reporters after the win over the Washington Wizards on December 13.
“But we try to hang our hat on keeping our man in front guarding one-on-one and provide help when needed. So that’s sustainable in any form of basketball.”
Nets Continue to Look Impressive
Coming into the season the Nets’ hopes seemed dead in the water as they failed to put together any consistent stretch of wins and fell as low as 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings. But upon firing head coach Steve Nash and hiring Jacque Vaughan as his official replacement, Brooklyn has notched one of the top records in the NBA and has shown no signs of slowing down.
It is too early to say they are title contenders because the season is still relatively young. But with Durant playing at an MVP- caliber level, it is not that far-fetched to say they could eventually reach that point as the season progresses.
They will have an opportunity to build upon that record in their next game against the Toronto Raptors.