It’s true, the Nets have played better basketball since the All-Star break. Jeremy Lin’s hamstring seems to be finally cooperating again. It’s also deep enough into the season to conclude that seven-foot Brook Lopez is a legitimate threat from the three-point line.
While all of this is indeed true, it doesn’t erase the fact the Brooklyn Nets are still very much in the deep end of the rebuilding pool.
Fans of the Nets can take plenty from their team beating the Knicks twice within a week’s span. In a season where there hasn’t been much to cheer for, you take what you can get.
For Jeremy Lin fans, that includes seeing their favorite point guard on the court more, much like the 30 minutes he logged in Brooklyn’s 121-110 win over the Knicks Thursday night, at Madison Square Garden.
Lin scored 15 points while dishing out eight assists, it was the type of performance the Nets were banking on when they signed Lin to a multi-year contract last summer.
So, with Lin’s performance against his former team in mind, if one wanted to conclude the Nets would bring the same formula for victory back to their home court for a Friday night matchup with the Boston Celtics, well … guess again.
The Celtics, playing without their star point guard Isaiah Thomas, managed to squeak by the Nets with a 98-95 win in front of a sold out crowd at Barclays Center.
Lin finished with 10 points in 21 minutes of play. It was, however, the nearly nine minutes in the fourth quarter Lin was on the bench which opened the door to second-guessing of head coach Kenny Atkinson’s substitution pattern.
The Nets, at 13-55, are already looking ahead. There’s two first-round picks in a deep NBA draft to prepare for. There’s also a reported $30 million in salary cap space coming their way this for free agency this summer.
Then there’s the present roster which includes youngsters Caris LeVert, Isaiah Whitehead, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Atkinson and the Nets are knee-deep in player development for the remainder of this season.
The reality of the situation is there’s only so many minutes Atkinson can give 10 to 12 players every night. This won’t make veteran players happy on some nights, that’s understandable as they’re competitors.
Lin declined comment after the game Friday night when asked about his minutes. It’s a fine line to walk for Atkinson in his first year as an NBA head coach, it is, however, a necessary line.
It should be noted that despite all the losing this season, the Nets have managed to stick together. The chemistry between the players on and off the court has remained positive throughout the tough times.
Atkinson wasn’t hired to win a popularity contest, he’s there to teach just as much as he’s there to win games. He’s remained consistent with upholding the team’s approach to player-development. It’s important this philosophy continues for the long-term future of this team.
The Celtics moved to within two games of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Isaiah Thomas did not play due to a bruised right knee… Jae Crowder continues to emerge as a player to watch for the Celtics. Crowder scored nine of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to help the Celtics hold on for the victory.
Sean Kilpatrick, strained left hamstring, missed his second straight game for the Nets.