Brooklyn Nets Return Home for Golden State Showdown
Now tied for first in East, Nets get West-leading Warriors to tip off three-game home stretch
As they return to Brooklyn after a six-game road trip, the Nets have moved into a first-place tie in the Eastern Conference with a 10-4 record. Back in Barclays Center for a three-games-in-four-nights home stand, the Nets will find themselves in a matchup of conference leaders.
The Golden State Warriors are 11-2 after the Charlotte Hornets snapped their seven-game win streak, 106-102 on Sunday night. Golden State’s only other loss this season came in overtime.
“Golden State, they’ve put themselves out ahead of the pack so far across the league,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “They’re playing great basketball. Really found a group that fits really well together, has a really strong identity. You can see the positive energy that comes out of that group. It will be a great challenge for us. We’re going to have to be ready coming off a long trip here. Get home try to get rested and bring as much energy as we can Tuesday night.”
The Warriors have been elite on both ends of the floor, ranking first in defensive rating (99.3) and third in offensive rating (112.0) for a 12.7 net rating that is a full 5.7 points per 100 possessions ahead of No. 2 Miami.
Golden State is launching at historic levels from 3-point range, part of the NBA’s still-growing trend. Only eight teams in NBA history have attempted 40.0 3-pointers per game; five are doing so this year. The Warriors are second in the league with 42.4 but first in makes with 15.2 while shooting 35.8. They’re first in effective field goal percentage (55.4) and assists (29.5). Stephen Curry is second in scoring (28.1 ppg) behind Kevin Durant.
“Good challenge; really good challenge for us,” said Patty Mills. “It's pretty important that we come out no matter who we're playing — first game back at home after a very long road trip can be tough. So I think a mental game more than anything is probably the deal for us and what we can control. Obviously, it being the Warriors and how well they're playing together as a team is another challenge. Our defense is going to be is going to be tested, our communication is going to be tested. But a great challenge for us to see where we're at, and where we need to get to. So looking forward it.”
After Golden State, the Nets will host Cleveland on Wednesday and Orlando on Friday. The Cavaliers have jumped out to a 9-5 start after finishing 22-50 last season. They’re sixth in the NBA in defensive rating (103.4). The Nets routed the Magic in Orlando last Wednesday, 123-90. Orlando’s starting lineup continues to lead the league with a plus-47 in 144 minutes but was minus-5 in nine minutes against Brooklyn last week and the Magic have since fallen to 3-10.
KEVIN DURANT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
On Monday afternoon, Kevin Durant was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 32.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in Brooklyn’s 3-1 week. Durant shot 62.9 percent overall and 52.6 percent from 3-point range while posting three 30-point games and scoring 28 in Brooklyn’s fourth game.
Durant is off to a monstrous start, leading the league with 29.6 points per game on 58.6 percent shooting, including 42.4 percent from 3-point range. He’s also averaging 8.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Durant has scored at least 30 points in seven of Brooklyn’s 14 games, the most in the league so far.
Durant went to three straight NBA Finals with the Warriors, winning two titles and two NBA Finals MVPs. After Durant’s departure, hit by injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors fell to 15-50 in 2019-20, then fell short of the playoffs with a 39-33 record last season. Durant played in both of Brooklyn’s wins over the Warriors last season. Separately, Durant and the Warriors have each risen back to the top of the NBA going into Tuesday’s matchup.
“It’s just another game,” said Durant. “I mean, it’s 15 games into the season. Obviously, they’re the best team in the league and they’re playing at an elite level, but it’s a regular season game. We obviously want to go out there and win in front of our home crown, but we’re not gonna put pressure on ourselves and call this Finals matchup. We’re not even looking at it that way. It’s another opportunity for us to build who we are, figure out what we want to do out there and keep pushing.”
THE THIRD MAN
Patty Mills exploded for career highs of 29 points and nine 3-pointers in Sunday’s win in Oklahoma City, shooting 9-of-12 from deep and 10-of-16 overall.
“His work ethic is top of the line, so it was a matter of time before he started knocking some of those down, and tonight he got it going, and that’s what we need,” said Kevin Durant. “We’re gonna need guys to be aggressive, to score the basketball and make plays and our second unit did a great job.”
“He was aggressive,” said Steve Nash. “He got hot, made some great threes, some big threes. Gave our offense a little extra boost and some life. It’s great when we have someone else like Joe (Harris), Patty, (LaMarcus Aldridge), step up like that, (Blake Griffin) in Toronto, make some three-balls to spread the floor a little bit and put points on the board as well.”
Behind the lead of Durant and James Harden, the Nets saw different players step in with significant offensive contributions over the course of the road trip. Harris preceded Mills’ 3-point explosion by going 6-of-8 from deep and scoring 24 points in New Orleans on Friday. Harris made 17-of-30 3-pointers (56.7 percent) over the course of the road trip to lift his 3-point shooting to 46.6 percent for the season. Blake Griffin had 14 points in the win in Toronto when he made 4-of-6 3-pointers.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points in Detroit, 19 in Chicago, and 21 in Orlando, making 7-of-11 3-pointers on the trip and shooting 51.7 percent overall.
“He's won us a few games and been a big part of our success this year,” said Nash in Orlando. “Gives us a scoring punch off the bench but also just a veteran who knows how to play on both ends of the floor. He's seen it all. So he's been great and really important to us.”
Catch the Brooklyn Nets this Season