The Nets are like any other struggling NBA team at this point in the season, they’re tired and looking for answers.
The chance to get away from it all for a few days can help restore much-needed energy. For teams around the league, this opportunity presents itself in the form of the All-Star break.
If there’s any team currently which needs this mandatory reset button, it’s the Nets.
Brooklyn finished the first half of the season with a seven-game losing streak. They’ve lost 11 of their last 12 games and have a 19-40 record. Those numbers should’ve gave the Nets plenty to think about during the break.
“We have to come back with a bit of a chip on our shoulder,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “That’ frustrating for all of us. We have to turn it around. We have I think 24 games after the All-Star break, see if we can make a little money and play well going into that offseason. I said last year, it’s so important. We did that last year, we really improved after the All-Star break. We’re kind of stagnating right now.”
There’s actually 23 games left on the schedule, but Atkinson is right about last season’s second half improvement. The Nets went into the All-Star break on a deflating 14-game losing streak. Over a stretch of 26 games, the Nets had only won once. The play eventually improved and led to an 11-15 record the rest of the way.
But if Brooklyn is to turn this season around, it’ll need to start with an improved effort on team defense. The Nets struggle to get stops, don’t rebound well, and is in the habit of giving up too many easy baskets.
Injuries to Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have definitely played a role in what’s gone wrong lately. They both, however, figure to be return soon.
The Nets are also getting improved play from Allen Crabbe. In Brooklyn’s last four games, Crabbe averaged 25.3 points and it appears to be finding his comfort zone.
D’Angelo Russell also has been showing signs he’s ready for a larger role again since returning from injury. He scored at least 15 points and registered at least five assists off the bench in each of Brooklyn’s last three games before the break. It might be time to get Russell in the starting lineup again.
Russell, Crabbe, and the continued improvement of Spencer Dinwiddie provides the Nets with some answers for the offense. But there’s no better way to show that chip on your shoulder than by playing tough defense for four quarters.
If the Nets are to get back on track with their development they’ll need to put the first half of this season behind them.
Getting away from everything helps clear the mind and can return focus where it needs to be. For Brooklyn, this means figuring it out on defense and making it easier for their offense to succeed.
It’s on Atkinson and the players to return to action focused on the remaining 23 games.