Back to back games against the two NBA finalists of the last two years? The Brooklyn Nets weren’t optimistic about walking away with wins in this one, but the 20-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers comes at the wrong time for a team that hasn’t been able to take advantage of Jeremy Lin’s return as much as it could have, or at least wanted to.
The Nets lost 119-99 a night after collapsing in the second half against the Warriors. This puts them at five consecutive losses and 7 out of their last 8, falling to 7-22 this season (tied for the worst in the conference) and a terrible 1-14 on the road. These are the kind of games where I’m not sure if pointing fingers at Kenny Atkinson or underperforming players has any kind of influence or insight. The situation seems to bad right now, that it’s more of a collective clusterf*** and not just one or two people dragging this ship down to the depths of awfulness.
I know flight simulators still exist, but I haven’t played one since the 1990’s. For those who have a clue what I’m talking about, the most annoying moment in these games was when your jet would go into stall, and start spiraling down towards the ground, without you being capable of doing something about it. This is what the Nets season looks like from the outside.
I usually focus on what Lin did in these posts, but it’s not as important right now. He finished with 10 points in 25 minutes, adding 6 assists. He also turned the ball over five times (10 in 2 games) and finished with a team-worst -34. Again, it doesn’t say anything about him or the team. After a few close games the Nets were one or two better possessions of winning, came the series against the Raptors, Warriors and Cavaliers. All blow outs in the sense that wasn’t much to play for when it was all over. Against the Warriors the Nets fell apart in the second half. Against the Cavaliers, it was a bad start (15 first quarter points) and another horrible third quarter performance (32-17 Cavs), something that has been synonymous with their entire season.
Maybe their short Christmas break will help them sort things out, but right now this is a team that looks like it’s broken, or close to that. A head coach that’s no longer sure of his way of bringing the best out of this team, still not figuring out who to “go to war with”. Maybe it is just a matter of time until it all clicks and the Nets climb from the league’s cellar, and it’s true that playing against Golden State and Cleveland is not an indication for a team of the Nets caliber. However, due to a number of reasons, some of them out of their control, but some of them well within their realm of influence, they don’t seem any closer to establishing a system that works and wins. We’re not even talking about defense, which was always going to be an issue, but doesn’t seem to improve despite the many lessons they’ve received so far.
It’s Christmas, so if there’s ever a time to be optimistic despite everything, it’s now. Jeremy Lin will play more minutes. The 8th, 9th and 10th wins will come. The Nets can be a better team (not saying a good team, but better). But right now it seems that talking about putting Lin in control and making specific adjustments is redundnat. The Nets need to pick themselves up and win by the teeth. With focus, without any collapses, with something resembling a fighting defense. Without that kind of desire or short-term motivation, this losing streak could turn into something much worse.