Season Record: 5-5
Week Record: 2-2
Player of the Week: Jarrett Allen – 15.0 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 2.0 BPG, 67.9 FG%, 75.9 FT%
Best Individual Performance: Caris LeVert – 43 Points, 5 Rebounds, 6 assists in 110-115 L against the Memphis Grizzlies (7-9 from three, 19 points in the 3rd quarter)
It was yet another rough week for the Nets as Kevin Durant was forced to sit out after Sunday’s game versus the Washington Wizards (a disappointing loss we’ll get to) and Kyrie Irving decided to sit out two games after two stellar performances to start the week. The starting lineup went from Irving, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Joe Harris, Durant, and DeAndre Jordan at the beginning of the week to Bruce Brown, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, Jeff Green, Jarrett Allen to end it. The silver lining is the Nets went 2-2 through this peculiar week.
The Nets were at “full strength” to start the week with a home matchup versus the 1-5 Wizards. It was once again a poor defensive effort as the Nets fell 122-123. The end of the game was easily the worst moment of this early season for the Nets as both Kyrie and KD miss game-winning shot attempts in the final possession. 1st, Kyrie came up the court and got a favorable switch against Rui Hachimura. He quickly created separation and pulled up from three with about 7 seconds remaining. We’ve been convinced that Kyrie pulling it from three with any kind of separation is a make, however, this shot hit the back of the rim. Cabarrot made a great play to tip-out the rebound, which landed in KD’s hands as he stepped into a rhythm jumper right outside the paint. *Clang* Another miss. Ball Game!
With the loss, the Nets fell under .500, something no one saw coming before the season. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was a disappointing moment for a team with such high expectations.
Heading into the next matchup versus the 4-2 Utah Jazz, KD was ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols. Steve Nash decided to change the entire starting lineup, outside of Irving, and it actually worked out. The defense was a lot better as they held the Jazz to 14 1st quarter points, clamping them to 19% shooting from the field. Though the Jazz began to find a rhythm in the 2nd quarter, the Nets never relinquished the lead after the blowout 1st quarter. The Nets would go on to win 130-96 behind Kyrie’s 29 points, Allen’s 19-point/18-rebound effort, and LeVert’s 24 points off the bench. It was a relieving bounce-back performance for the Nets.
Two days later and the Nets were matched up against the league’s hottest team, the 7-1 Philadelphia 76ers. Though Philly was without Seth Curry, amongst other rotational players, Brooklyn was without Dinwiddie, KD, and Kyrie. The Nets took a strong halftime lead behind a 15-point 2nd quarter from Joe Harris off the bench. The 76ers made several attempts to close the lead, getting the point differential down to eight multiple times, but every attempt resulted in a 76ers turnover followed by a big shot make by a Nets role player. It was another impressive win for Nash and his starless Nets squad. The team was visibly winded to start the next game against the Memphis Grizzlies (the 2nd night of a back-to-back). The Grizzlies opened the game with a 40-point 1st quarter and led at the half, 62-47. Despite a gutsy 19-point 3rd quarter from LeVert to get the team back in the game, the Nets were unable to finish the game strong. With the score tied 104-104 with four minutes left, the Nets went on a three-minute scoring drought, falling to 104-111 with about a minute left to play. That marked two losses to a Ja Morant-less Grizzlies team.
There are some good and bad takeaways from this week for the Nets, mostly good. The bad: the availability of Kyrie and KD throughout the season will likely continue to waver & the perimeter defense may be a season-long issue even with Bruce Brown entering the starting lineup. The good: Nash has finally decided to start Allen over DeAndre, LeVert is matching his confidence with production, & the rest of the shooters (besides consistent-Joe Harris) are starting to find their shots again (Landry Shamet, Taurean Prince, Cabarrot, etc.) The Nets may only be 5-5, but it was an encouraging week considering KD played just one game and Kyrie just two. Nash deserves some credit for the early-season adjustments.
vs Oklahoma City Thunder 1/10/21
vs Denver Nuggets 1/12/21
@ New York Knicks 1/13/21
vs Orlando Magic 1/16/21