BROOKLYN, NY — After the Brooklyn Nets were defeated by the Golden State Warriors on their home floor on Tuesday night, losing 117-99 to fall to 0-4 this season against the Warriors, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, Nets coach Steve Nash said his team doesn’t belong in the same conversation as those teams yet.
“Well, I just don’t think we’re in that category anymore,” said Nash, after Brooklyn was blown out in the third quarter on Tuesday night, despite Stephen Curry having most of it with dirty problems. “We have a lot of work to do. We are trying to improve as a group, to get better and hopefully by the end of the year we can find a way to overcome some of our shortcomings.”
The Nets, at 10-5, are a game behind the east-leading Washington Wizards and a half game behind the Bulls in second. But despite their record and star power, Nash was disappointed with the way his team faded in the second half against Golden State — just like they did in the fourth quarter in Chicago last week.
But confronting a Warriors team steeped in corporate lore that includes coach Steve Kerr and stars Curry and Draymond Green — all of whom have been together for more than seven seasons — the Nets repeatedly said continuity is something they are. will have to spend the season catching up.
“We’re just trying to get better every game,” said Nets star James Harden after 24 points, four rebounds and four assists. “The goal is to be the best team at the end of the season, in the postseason. That’s the goal. But probably not [there yet]. We’re probably not around. But it’s a long season for us to get better, and we’ll get better and better.”
When asked what it will take to get there, Harden spoke of creating an identity for how both sides play – something the Warriors, who are 12-2 in the league, are starting to look like the teams. who won the 2015 NBA title and the 2016 NBA Finals before current Net Kevin Durant arrived in Golden State is clearly established.
“We need to find our identity,” Harden said. “We’re still a brand new team, so we’ve yet to figure out what we’re good at, what we’re good at, what we can be good at, and it’s going to be a long season. But we’re, what, 14, “15 games in? So tonight’s game won’t affect us at all. I don’t think anyone knows themselves well. Maybe the Warriors, because they’ve been together for a long time.”
That Golden State identity certainly came to the fore in the third quarter, as the Warriors — who have now surpassed teams by a whopping 124 points in third over their 14 games this season, the most in the NBA by far — turned up the heat on both sides, even when Curry was in trouble. It was the avalanche these Warriors would hit teams with when they were at their best, with Curry hitting bombs from deep behind the 3-point arch, Green wreaking havoc defensively, and Golden State looking connected in a way on both sides of the field. which their opponents could not keep up with.
“Yeah, the way the crowd gets energized when Steph starts to get up from 10 feet — it’s everywhere,” Kerr said. “It happened recently in Charlotte. It happened tonight. So I think the fact that our team is good again and playing well and having a good track record adds to what Steph brings to the table every night, in terms of his skills and showmanship. And that stuff — when you win and you get the incredible display of skill from Steph, people start watching. It’s nice to be in the spotlight again. Our team really enjoys being back here. “
The Nets seemed powerless to stop it — even Durant, who had an unusually bad night of shooting, scoring 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting. Curry, on the other hand, was exciting, finishing with 37 points on 12-for-19 shooting, including 9-for-14 from a 3-point range, provoking “MVP” chants from the Brooklyn crowd. Curry admitted it was strange to hear that in an opponent’s building, which was mostly pro-Warriors during the game.
“It was a combination,” Durant said in explaining his shooting difficulties, adding his recent attack with pain in his right (shooting) shoulder played no part in his night off. “They played a great defense, they have tall defenders and guys who can help, they send bodies all the time when I had the ball. That’s what great defenses do. And there are a few shots that I wish I could return I hastened.” When we were 18 or 20 I tried to get it back so fast and made bad shots and rushed shots. It’s all part of the journey and understanding what level you need to be in each possession. This was a great test for us.”
It was also a test the Nets failed to pass. And for a team that was expected to be an offensive juggernaut this season – even as Kyrie Irving stays away from the team after refusing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine – it was another poor performance on that end.
The Nets shot just 39.1 percent from the field, going 10-for-36 (27.8 percent) from a 3-point range. While Brooklyn has far exceeded expectations defensively, with the Boston Celtics in ninth place in defensive efficiency after Tuesday’s loss, the fact that the Nets are 18th in offensive efficiency is shocking.
Nash admitted that part of it is a hangover from the absence of Irving, who he reiterated before the game that he keeps in touch with, even though they don’t talk about basketball. Meanwhile, he must try to persuade his team in the direction it wants to go, while continuing to try to build up to the kind of deep playoffs it expects to have – one that, based on current form, could potentially be with them. can end up facing the same Warriors in the NBA Finals.
“I think the guys have been great at buying what we want to do defensively,” said Nash. “No one would have picked us as a top 10 defense to start the year, and we defend, we find a way. I think offensively we have all these different formations, different backgrounds, playing styles, 10 new players on our team. It takes time.
“We started the year with a continuity plan from last year that was of course thrown out the window when [Irving] didn’t come back so we’re trying to build it up and sort it out. But we played a very good defense. It really puts you to the test. And I think tonight was a great lesson for us that we have to double down on some of our principles when the going gets tough.”