The Brooklyn Nets have made offense look easy over their first two preseason games, but the focus throughout this limited preseason has been on the other end of the floor.
“If you could see our practices sometimes, you would see that that’s really been the emphasis, on the defensive end,” said Kyrie Irving. “Obviously, we can score a bunch of points, and that’s the object of the game, and we’ve got to do that plenty more than everyone else, but defensively is really where you make your mark and you separate yourself, so we’re looking forward to continue to grow on that end.”
In Friday’s 113-89 win over the Celtics, the Nets limited Boston to 34.8 percent shooting overall, and an anemic 17.8 percent (8-for-45) from 3-point range. Brooklyn had 13 steals, and the Celtics turned it over 22 times in total.
“I thought we made some strides defensively, got a little more connected, got better recognition of situations,” said head coach Steve Nash. “But most importantly, competed and played together. So, I thought the defense was good tonight.”
“Defensively, we played really well as a team,” said Caris LeVert. “We covered for each other’s mistakes and things like that, and we have great rim protectors at the rim. I think for us communication will be key. We’ve got a lot of guys that are the same size as well that could switch, so that makes it really easy as well. I think we’re on the right track right now. I can’t wait until the real games start.”
There’s also the Kevin Durant factor, with the Nets plugging in a lengthy, agile 6-foot-10 wing who can break up passing lanes and defend in the paint. For his career, Durant has averaged a block and a steal per game, and against Boston he had three blocks.
“We have three elite rim protectors out there, KD, (DeAndre Jordan) and (Jarrett Allen),” said LeVert. “So for us on the perimeter allows us to be more aggressive in the passing lanes, more aggressive switching and just keying in on guys, you know, key players, because at the rim we know we have those three guys, so that'll be huge for us all year.”