The Brooklyn Nets are hosting the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night, a week into the NBA season since their opener against Minnesota.
It’s been an eventful week. The Nets have played two overtime games, erased double-digit, first-half deficits, and surrendered fourth-quarter leads on the way to a 1-2 record so far.
“I think that we've had spurts of greatness, we've had spurts of not so good moments,” said center DeAndre Jordan. “We just need to figure out how to put it together for 48 minutes. I like what we're doing, we see that we've played a lot of great basketball, more so than we've played not so great basketball. We can't get down too early on ourselves in the season. We have to continue to play and get better. We did a lot of great things the past three games and we did some things that we need to work on. We went over that today in film.”
Brooklyn has the league’s highest team (124.0) and individual (Kyrie Irving, 37.7) scoring averages, and a deeper look at the numbers shows they’ve gotten there in familiar ways. The Nets are seventh in 3-point attempts (38.7) and fourth in 3-point percentage (39.7), getting 37.1 percent of their points from beyond the arc, fifth in the league.
They are second in isolation plays (13.0) and drives (61.7) per game, and Irving is second with 16.0 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions.
The Nets are also fourth in effective field goal percentage (54.3) and ninth in offensive rating (108.1) while playing the league’s fifth-fastest pace (107.53).
“We’ve showed that we can score with anybody, but we need to get some more stops,” said Spencer Dinwiddie. “Pretty simple, quite honestly. Continue to move the ball, get guys good shots. Ky’s been phenomenal obviously. Caris has been really good as well. As a unit, if we stop people we’ll be fine.”
As far as the defense goes, most of the numbers show Brooklyn in the middle of the pack compared to the rest of the league, including their defensive rating ranking of 17th (106.9).
One exception is opponents shooting 43.6 percent from 3-point range, the second highest number in the league. Head coach Kenny Atkinson has said he’s more concerned with 3-point attempts allowed, and there the Nets are 15th in giving up 33.7 shots per game.
“It’ll come down,” said Atkinson of opponents’ 3-point shooting percentage. “Small sample size.”
“I would say the way we play defense is a little bit different than where a lot of different places play defense, so implementing all the new pieces and being like, hey, we have a muck terminology or a shift terminology or a black or a blue or a red or whatever it is, we have all these little things that are nuanced that are sometimes based upon feel and not just a coaches call,” said Dinwiddie. “So as we build that collective chemistry, I think the sky’s the limit because we have good individual and team defenders, it’s just getting everybody on the same page.”
After Jarrett Allen started the first two games, the Nets went with DeAndre Jordan to start at center on Sunday in Memphis. Allen posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds, his first double-figure scoring game of the season. Jordan had 12 rebounds himself.
Through three games, Allen is averaging 11.0 rebounds and Jordan 8.7 rebounds.
“We kind of have a two-headed strength there,” said Kenny Atkinson. “It’s really a strength of ours. I think it’s matchups. It’s feel. I like what I saw last game. So we’ll see. I think we’ll continue to look at it. They’re such good guys, too. I thought Jarrett Allen was great off the bench. I thought he played really well. So I think it’s kind of a nonissue.”
SO MUCH CLUTCH
With two overtime games, the Nets are easily leading the league in clutch minutes, defined as games within five points in the final five minutes, plus overtime. As a result, they lead the league in clutch points scored, 60, while also having given up the most, 52. So Brooklyn is plus-eight in those situations despite having lost their two overtime games.
LONG ISLAND UNDERWAY
The Long Island Nets started training camp for their G League season this week and were at HSS Training Center for Tuesday’s practice session. The Nets assigned Nicolas Claxton, Theo Pinson, Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa to Long Island for practice, then recalled them. Atkinson said two-way signee Henry Ellenson was with Long Island for practice on Tuesday but would be with Brooklyn on Wednesday.
“I just can’t wait see all the guys and talk to them and talk to the staff, too,” said Kenny Atkinson. “They’re part of our staff. So it’s not just the players, it’s our staff reconnecting with them and having them back. It kind of gives you the ‘man, we’ve got a real program going on here.’ I love it. I love when they practice here.” The Long Island Nets open their season Saturday, Nov. 9 on the road against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, then open their home schedule at NYCB LIVE on Monday, Nov. 11 against the College Park Skyhawks.
ABOUT THE PACERS
The Nets have had a rough go against the Pacers during Kenny Atkinson’s tenure. Atkinson actually got his first win against Indiana on Oct. 28, 2016, but then Brooklyn dropped nine straight against the Pacers before beating them on April 7 last season to clinch a playoff spot.
But these Pacers have a different look than the team that has caused the Nets so much trouble the last two-plus seasons. Star guard Victor Oladipo has been out since late January after suffering a knee injury. Forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young, both former Nets coincidentally, are gone from last season’s Eastern Conference No. 5 seed as well.
The Pacers have moved fourth-year forward Damontas Sabonis into the starting lineup alongside Myles Turner in the frontcourt, giving Indiana two 6-foot-11 players up front. Guard Malcolm Brogdon has come over from Milwaukee and leads the Pacers with 22.3 points and 10.7 assists per game. Sabonis is averaging 20.7 points and 10.7 rebounds and Turner 17.3 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Indiana has started 0-3, with two losses to Detroit and one to Cleveland.