It’s been a week of change for the Brooklyn Nets, so far, the results have not been what they were hoping.
After a win at home over the Washington Wizards, without John Wall, the Nets have dropped their last three games. Their defense has been bad, their energy level has reached levels of concern.
Brooklyn’s most recent loss, a 109-97 defeat to the Indiana Pacers at Barclays Center, left head coach Kenny Atkinson with a perplexed look on his face afterwards.
“Whatever the IT is, in terms of energy and physicality, hasn’t been there,” said Atkinson about his team’s recent play.
The Nets, now at 11-19 on the season, are beyond a team showing some slippage. They’re spiraling out of control and it’s up to Atkinson to get them back on track.
Yes, this is a team still in the midst of a rebuild. So, pushing the panic button would be premature. But, in terms of a team trending upwards, the Nets’ recent losing streak has them in the danger zone.
What’s wrong with them?
They miss D’Angelo Russell, he was their leading scorer before going down with a knee injury. Atkinson doesn’t have a closer for the fourth quarter. Russell isn’t afraid to take the big shot, he also has the ability to get to the basket and finish.
In losses to the Knicks and Pacers, the Nets were in striking distance but couldn’t find a way to get over the hump. Against Toronto, on the road, they were blown out of the building. In all three ballgames, the energy level has not been where it needs to be. They could’ve also used Russell’s playmaking skills.
The offense has the green light to launch three-pointers at will, this has been a gift and curse for the Nets, especially lately. In their three-game losing streak, Brooklyn is 31 for 98 from long range.
When the three-pointer is falling, it can ignite a team. The Nets have thrived when the long-ball is falling. But when it’s not, especially during this recent stretch, their offense becomes stagnant. The ball stops moving, shot selection becomes a problem.
Atkinson is looking for answers, but it doesn’t appear newcomers Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas are ready yet to be one of them.
The duel made their Net debuts in the loss to Toronto, both put up decent numbers. But while Stauskas saw playing time against Indiana, Okafor was on the bench watching again.
Atkinson, when asked afterwards, alluded to conditioning being a reason as to why Okafor’s home debut was postponed.
“We need to help get him in better condition, that’s first off,” Atkinson said on Okafor. “We need to integrate him more into the system, so I think it’s going to take some time.”
There’s still much more room for the Nets to improve, they’re far from being a finished product. But, it’s important to not get so deep in a rut where it negates all of the good which they’ve worked hard to accumulate.
Last season, the Nets endured 11-game and 16-game losing streaks.
Their current losing streak shouldn’t make anyone start calling for anyone’s job, but this team’s lack of energy and inability to locate that “IT” factor Atkinson referred to, is enough reason to be nervous.
That’s if Atkinson is unable to find a way to stop the bleeding.