Another night, another loss for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets are a team drowning in their own futility. The losses are piling up and the season, only a quarter of a way through, is getting away.
Brooklyn’s 99-97 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Monday night at Barclays Center, extended their losing streak to seven games.
When Alec Burks dunked the game-winner, with 3.2 seconds left, it was a reminder that losing teams find ways to lose.
The Nets, with their 8-17 record, look like they can’t get out of their own way. That’s another sign of a losing team.
The frustration has to be mounting. Brooklyn battled back from being down double-digits to tie the game with 18.9 seconds left. They overcame a poor shooting night with an aggressive drives to the basket. This brought the home crowd back to life.
Then, as what tends to happen with struggling teams, the bottom fell out again.
What we know about this team is there isn’t a shortage of “Brooklyn Grit”. The Nets are scrappy. Their ability to take a punch and hit back is clear. The issue is their inability to deliver a knockout punch when their opponent is against the ropes.
“It was tough, we didn’t get any stops,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said afterwards. “Offensively I thought we got what we wanted but on the defensive end we didn’t get any stops.”
Brooklyn’s inability to get stops is a familiar tune Atkinson is singing. The Cavaliers pounded the Nets early on points in the paint, 38-24, before they closed the gap in the second half.
Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson posted double figures in rebounding for Cleveland, with 14 and 11 respectively. When it comes to rebounding, the Nets are ranked in the bottom half of the league.
The coaches can only do so much, the players have to meet them halfway and vice versa. Commitment and effort are requirements for playing strong defense and rebounding. It’s much more than just talking about wanting to do it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a contending team like the Philadelphia 76ers or a struggling one like Cleveland, the formula remains the same. Winning teams must execute on both sides of the ball. The Nets consistently fall short of meeting this goal.
There comes a point where everyone must embrace adversity and then confront it. Atkinson and the Nets are in deep waters and, with three years of rebuilding already put in, it’s time to sink or swim.