Brooklyn Nets Tip Off Six-Game Road Trip in Detroit
Brooklyn defense looking strong as Nets take longest trip of season
After a six-game homestand, the Brooklyn Nets hit the road for a six-game trip with a 5-3 record, a three-game win streak, and a defense that is defying the offseason doubters.
Two weeks into the season, the Nets are eighth in defensive rating — 104.1 points allowed per 100 possessions — third in opponent effective field goal percentage (48.3) and fourth in opponent field goal percentage (42.2).
“I just think we have to have an underdog’s mentality,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after Wednesday’s 117-108 win over Atlanta. “We have to be connected. We have to understand what we’re trying to accomplish defensively and play together down there. We have to communicate and have a big part of it is finding the collective clarity and connectivity and then a big part of it is just the underdog mentality. I think we did give up 12 offensive rebounds but they didn’t hurt us too much tonight as a result of the rebounds but I thought we got the big rebounds when it mattered and I thought our guys really stuck to it tonight and had that resilience down there.”
While the Nets are 24th in the league in opponent second-chance points allowed (13.8 per game) and 18th in total opponent rebounds per game (10.6), they’re actually right in the middle of the pack, 15th in the league, in defensive rebounding percentage (73.7). But with Brooklyn opponents shooting low percentages on a high number of field goal attempts — the Nets are allowing 93.4 shots per game, the most in the league — there are a lot of rebounds up for grabs on Brooklyn’s defensive end.
Gang rebounding is something Nash has emphasized and expects to continue to, saying “we’d be exceptional defensively if we rebounded better.”
“I mean individually, we’re guarding,” said James Harden following the win over Atlanta. “Coaches are doing an unbelievable job with the gamplan and making sure we're prepared. And we’re just going out there playing hard for each other, having each other's backs. We're not the biggest team, so we’ve got to do everything before it touches the paint, and then as a union rebound a basketball. So we did that for four quarters. Obviously they're a good team, especially offensively, they're going to make some shots. They’re going to make some plays. But the things that we can control is the rebounding and loose balls and not turning the ball over. And I think we did a pretty good job of that tonight.”
Now the Nets head out for their longest road trip of the season and won’t be back at Barclays Center until they host the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 16.
“We look forward to it,” said Kevin Durant. “It is a good test to see where we are as a group. It was very important for us to spend these two weeks at home which is getting reacquainted with the city, our routines, each other. So it was good to be at home doing that. Take it on the road now."
Let’s take a look at who’s waiting for Brooklyn on the road:
November 5 at Pistons, 7:00 p.m.
The Nets easily handled the Pistons in Brooklyn last Sunday, 117-91, behind a triple-double from James Harden and 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from Kevin Durant. The centerpiece of Detroit’s rebuilding project, 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, made his NBA debut the night before and didn’t play against Brooklyn. The Pistons are 1-7 after losses this week to Milwaukee and Philadelphia and last in the league in offensive rating (97.1). No team has finished with a mark that low since the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2014-15 season (94.9), who finished 18-64.
November 7 at Raptors, 3:30 p.m.
After a lost season while marooned in Tampa last year in which none of their top players such as Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, or Kyle Lowry played more than 56 games, the Raptors have had a chance to regroup. Lowry has moved on to Miami, but Toronto added Scottie Barnes with the fourth pick in the draft and forward OG Anunoby has taken a leap forward in the early going of his fifth NBA season. Siakam remains sidelined after offseason shoulder surgery. Toronto is 6-3 going into Friday night’s game against Cleveland, having won its last five games.
November 8 at Bulls, 7:00 p.m.
The Bulls jumped out to a quick start after their own refit, winning six of their first seven games. They added guards Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso to last year’s midseason pickup Nikola Vucevic, filling in a lot of the holes around All-Star Zach LaVine. They did lose promising second-year forward Patrick Williams to a wrist injury after just five games. The Bulls are in the top 10 in the NBA in offensive rating, defensive rating, and net rating.
November 10 at Magic, 7:00 p.m.
Orlando is incredibly young, with two rookies and nobody with more than three years’ experience in their starting lineup. But that group, which includes two top 10 picks from this year’s draft in Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner, is plus-33 in 109 minutes through a Wednesday loss against Boston that dropped the Magic to 2-7. That’s the third highest mark in the NBA. It’s when the Magic go to the bench that they’re having trouble though, with their reserves outscored by 65 points so far, the worst mark in the league.
November 12 at Pelicans, 7:00 p.m.
The Pelicans are stuck in the mud without Zion Williamson, who underwent offseason foot surgery after averaging 27.0 points on 61.1 shooting last season. He’s out a few more weeks at least, and with Lonzo Ball in Chicago and Eric Bledsoe in LA with the Clippers, New Orleans is down three of its top scorers from last season and in the bottom third of the league in offensive rating. The Pelicans are 1-8 going into Friday’s game at Golden State.
November 14 at Thunder, 6:00 p.m.
The Thunder are another rebuilding squad, with 15 of their 17 players possessing three years or fewer of NBA experience entering the season. They’re 29th in the league in offensive rating, scoring 98.0 points per 100 possessions. Oklahoma City is 2-7 with both of their wins coming against the Lakers.
Catch the Brooklyn Nets this Season