Can the Brooklyn Nets make it two in a row?
For a team coming off a brutal seven-game losing streak, it’s a very valid question. The Nets will find out when they welcome a familiar face to Barclays Arena Thursday night, Jason Kidd, now in his third season as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
If the Nets are going to maintain a presence in the win column they’ll have to continue attacking the basket, much like they did in their double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
For a team short on talent, and clearly still missing injured point guard Jeremy Lin, the options for the Nets are limited. The Clippers were obviously the more talented team, however, as the old saying goes, hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle.
Sean Kilpatrick, a player who’s path to the NBA epitomizes hustle, came alive in the second half against the Clippers and finished with a career-high 38 points. When the chips were down, and the shots weren’t falling, Kilpatrick didn’t give up.
“I ended up getting into a zone,”Kilpatrick said afterwards. “I think at the end of the day when you have that attack mentality, it really actually pays off because most of the time a natural reaction is to sit there and take a play off and when you have somebody that’s just constantly sitting there attacking you every play, I think that’s something that keeps the defense off guard. At that point there was no turning back for me.”
It’s effort, such as what Kilpatrick put in against the Clippers, which is what the Nets must keep up in order to help avoid falling into the pits of another painful losing streak.
Yes, this team misses Jeremy Lin, however, his absence is no excuse for lack of effort and hustle.
Kidd and the Bucks won’t make it easy.
Milwaukee has had the Nets number for quite awhile now, they’ve won the last five meetings between the two teams, seven of the last eight since Kidd left Brooklyn to take the Bucks job.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the x-factor for the Bucks and he’s been on a tear lately. The Nets will be hard-pressed to limit Antetokounmpo’s production, however, this is where hustle and that Brooklyn grit must show up.
Lin’s strained hamstring continues to keep him sidelined, he’s now missed over a month of action, but the Nets are right to take their time with his rehab.
In the meanwhile, the best way for an undermanned team to counter an opponent is to stay on the attack. For the Nets, this means on both sides of the ball, for four quarters. Yes, this includes the dreaded third quarter for this team.
Kidd’s young Bucks have won three of their last four games, including an impressive win over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets are looking to build momentum, while Milwaukee is aiming to sustain it.
There’s still no Jeremy Lin yet, but there is still the ability to compete and winning is the result of that.
We’ll see if the Nets double-overtime win over the Clippers served as a light bulb that went on at a crucial time in their development or just a fleeting moment for a team that just happen to catch their opponents on a bad night.