The Brooklyn Nets head into game three of the NBA season after having won their first two games by a combined 54 points, making them the first team since the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers to win their first two games each by at least 20 points.
That’s not a bad way to start a coaching career either, for Steve Nash.
“It’s a privileged position to be in to get off to a good start early,” said Nash.” We haven’t had a bad practice yet. I know we’ve only had 10, 12 practices and we might not have many for a while now just the way the schedule goes. It will all be film work and walkthroughs and individual sessions. But that competition level, the depth has promoted that competition and it’s raised the level every day and they’ve brought it. I think that’s put us in a position here where we’re able to compete out of the gates but I also see a lot of room for improvement on both sides of the ball.
“We are very formative, still, and we have to stick with it, because other teams are going to get better as well. Even if they are a team like Boston has been together, but they’re missing Kemba (Walker). You look around the league teams had a really short camp. Teams are going to get better. We have to continue to get better so at the end of the line we’re there and competitive and ready to go against the best teams in the league.”
Through two games, the Nets are averaging 124.0 points per game with an offensive rating of 118.1. Last season, Dallas had the league’s highest offensive rating at 115.9. Kyrie Irving is averaging 31.5 points per game and Kevin Durant 25.5 over the first two.
With a Sunday/Monday back-to-back coming up against the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies, this will also be Brooklyn’s first set of three games in four nights in what will be a compressed, 72-game grind.
“There’s no reason to be content,” said Irving. “We’ve got 70 more games to go, and then after that, it’s a free for all after that. We have to utilize this time to continue to see different looks from different teams, see different things that will challenge us in the playoffs, throughout the regular season, getting a feel for what the Eastern Conference is going to stack up and be like. There’s so many great players, and so many moves that are happening in the Eastern and Western Conference. We’ve got to get through the regular season, seeding, and we don’t want to rush that. I think in the past, I’ve had just such a rushing mentality to get through the season, to get into the playoffs, and right now I’m just grounded and balanced and playing every single day and not taking any day for granted with these guys.”
JARRETT ALLEN VS. CELTICS
Jarrett Allen had 11 rebounds against Boston on Friday night, including five on the offensive end. He added four blocks in his 21 minutes and finished with nine points.
“The guy was unbelievable tonight,” said Steve Nash. “He was good in the first half, he was special in the second half. That’s what it’s going to take to win, especially as we’re forming here, is special efforts and man, he was good. Defensively, protecting the rim, loose balls, rebounding at both ends, he was outstanding. We’re proud of him and he’s continuing and improving at this stage of his career.”
GETTING TO THE LINE
The Nets attempted 32 free throws in their opener against Golden State, and then 31 against Boston on Friday. That came after averaging 36.0 free throws in two preseason games. For context, the Clippers led the NBA with 26.3 free throw attempts per game last season.
With a wealth of playmakers and creators, and the shooting to space the floor, the Nets are going to put pressure on defenses and force situations that will pull them out of position and break down rotations.
“I wouldn't say it's been an emphasis but I wanted to attack,” said Steve Nash. “I've never really said the word free throws. but I want them to attack. I think the amount of, you know, depth, athleticism, playmaking, shooting allows for opportunities to get ourselves in closeout situations where we can attack and get in the paint. So you know it all works hand-in-hand when it when it flows well, and that is going to be a facet hopefully of our team because we do create opportunities, due to the players we have out there and the talent we have out there that we can draw a crowd and move the ball and allow guys to face closeouts. So, it’s something that definitely will be a strength of ours if things go as I hope they will. But it's a good sign that we're getting to the line early.”
JOE HARRIS EXTENDS 3-POINT STREAK
Joe Harris has now made a 3-pointer in 62 consecutive games, surpassing D’Angelo Russell’s franchise-long streak of 61 games. Harris is fourth in franchise history with 594 3-point field goals made, and both No. 3 Vince Carter (638) and No. 2 Kerry Kittles (687) are in range this season based on Harris’ numbers from the past three seasons. He’s also second in Nets history in 3-point percentage (43.0), behind Drazen Petrovic (43.7).
With his 29 points against Boston on Friday, Kevin Durant moved past Shaquille O’Neal into fifth place with 299 career points on Christmas Day. Kyrie Irving broke Micheal Ray Richardson’s 36-year-old franchise Christmas Day scoring record, with 37 points, edging him by a point. With seven 3-pointers, Irving also tied Brandon Ingram’s Christmas Day record, set last year.
ABOUT THE HORNETS
The Hornets made two big offseason additions, grabbing forward Gordon Hayward as a free agent, and scoring guard LaMelo Ball with the third overall pick. But it was a different point guard and free agent — summer of 2019 signing Terry Rozier — who made the big noise on opening night with 42 points on 15-of-23 shooting, including 10-of-16 from 3-point range, in a 121-114 loss to Cleveland. Depth may not be a Charlotte strength. Rozier and backcourt partner Devonte’ Graham played 38 and 37 minutes, respectively, against the Cavs, while Hayward logged 36 in scoring 28 points. The Hornets’ reserve rotation includes Ball, two 2019 second round picks, and journeyman center Bismack Biyombo, although Biyombo looks like the starting center now after Cody Zeller fractured his hand against Cleveland and is out at least a month after surgery. Charlotte fell to 0-2 on Saturday night with a 109-107 loss to Oklahoma City on a Shai Gilgeous-Alexander buzzer-beater.