The Golden State Warriors seemed to rest on their laurels in the absence of Kevin Durant, LeBron James and other star players. However, they are still having a great time playing basketball even without them. Brooklyn Nets have been trying to get back into the spotlight but it has not happened yet.
The “golden state warriors logo” is a team that has been in the spotlight for some time now. However, it seems like they’ve finally found their stride and are enjoying the return to the spotlight as Brooklyn Nets acknowledge they’re not there yet.
12:00:42 A.M. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
NEW YORK’S BROOKLYN — The Brooklyn Nets were thrashed 117-99 by the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at home, falling to 0-4 against the Warriors, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Milwaukee Bucks this season. Nets coach Steve Nash claimed his club doesn’t belong in the same discussion as those teams now.
“I just don’t believe we’re in that category yet,” Nash said after Brooklyn was blown out in the third quarter despite Stephen Curry sitting for the duration of the game due to foul trouble. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. We’re striving to progress as a group, to become better, and perhaps, by the end of the year, we’ll be able to overcome some of our shortcomings.”
The Nets are a game behind the East-leading Washington Wizards and a half-game behind the Bulls in second place, with a record of 10-5. Despite their record and star power, Nash was frustrated with how his team wilted in the second half against Golden State, just as it did in the fourth quarter last week in Chicago.
However, facing a Warriors team that is steeped in corporate knowledge, with players like coach Steve Kerr and stars Curry and Draymond Green — all of whom have been together for seven years or more — the Nets have repeatedly stated that they will have to spend the season catching up on continuity.
After finishing with 24 points, four rebounds, and four assists, Nets star James Harden remarked, “We’re just trying to get better every game.” “The aim is to be the best club in the playoffs at the conclusion of the season. That is the objective. But, most likely, not [yet]. We’re probably a long way off. However, we have a full season ahead of us to improve, and we will do so.”
When asked what it will take to get there, Harden mentioned developing an identity for how to play on both ends, something the Warriors, who are 12-2 and starting to resemble the teams that won the 2015 NBA title and advanced to the 2016 NBA Finals before current Net Kevin Durant arrived, have clearly established.
“We have to figure out who we are,” Harden added. “We’re still a new club, so we have a long season ahead of us to figure out what we’re good at, what we’re great at, and what we can be great at. But we’re on game 14, 15, right? As a result, tonight’s game has no bearing on us. Nobody understands themselves very well, in my opinion. Because they’ve been together for so long, it’s possible the Warriors.”
The Warriors’ identity was on display in the third quarter, when they cranked up the heat on both ends, despite Curry’s foul issues. The Warriors have now outscored opponents by a stunning 124 points in the third quarter throughout their 14 games this season, by far the most in the NBA. When these Warriors were at their best, it was an avalanche, with Curry hitting bombs from beyond the 3-point line, Green creating havoc on defense, and Golden State appearing connected on both ends of the floor in a manner that their opponents couldn’t keep up with.
“It’s everywhere,” Kerr remarked of the way the crowd energizes when Steph begins soaring from 30 feet. “It occurred the other night in Charlotte. It took place tonight. So I believe that the fact that our team is back on track, playing well, and boasting a winning record adds to what Steph brings to the table every night in terms of talent and flair. And so that stuff — when you’re winning and Steph puts on a fantastic show, people are going to pay attention. It’s great to be back in the limelight. Our crew is delighted to be back here.”
Even Durant, who had an unusually terrible shooting night, tallying 19 points on 6-for-19 shooting, appeared unable to stop it. Curry, on the other hand, was spectacular, scoring 37 points on 12-for-19 shooting, including 9-for-14 from 3-point range, prompting cries of “MVP” from the Brooklyn audience. Curry stated that hearing it in an enemy building, which had been overwhelmingly pro-Warriors throughout the game, was weird.
“It was a combo,” Durant said of his shooting struggles, adding that a recent bout of stiffness in his right (shooting) shoulder had no bearing on his poor performance. “They played excellent defense; they had lengthy defenders and people who can assist, and they constantly sent bodies my way when I had the ball. Great defenses accomplish this. And there are a few photos I wish I could retake. I hurried through it. When we were down 18 or 20, I was trying to pull it back as quickly as possible, and I was taking terrible and hasty shots as a result. It’s all part of the adventure of figuring out what level you need to be in each possession. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to put our skills to the test.”
It was also a test in which the Nets failed. And, for a club that was projected to be an offensive powerhouse this season despite Kyrie Irving’s continued absence due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccination, it was yet another disappointing showing on that front.
The Nets shot 39.1 percent from the field and finished 10-for-36 (27.8%) from beyond the arc. While Brooklyn has significantly outperformed expectations defensively, and following Tuesday’s defeat, the Nets are tied for ninth in defensive efficiency with the Boston Celtics, the fact that they are 18th in offensive efficiency is perplexing.
Nash confessed that part of it is a hangover from Irving’s absence, but he insisted before the game that he still keeps in touch with him, even if they don’t chat about basketball. Meanwhile, he must strive to steer his team in the right way as they continue to prepare for the kind of long playoff run they anticipate — one that, based on recent history, might conclude with them meeting these same Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Nash remarked, “I think the players have been terrific in terms of buying into what we want to accomplish defensively.” “No one would have predicted us to be a top-10 defense at the start of the season, but we’re defending and finding a way.” I believe that offensively, we have a variety of lineups, histories, and styles of play, as well as ten new players on our roster. It will take some time.
“We began the year with a continuity plan from the previous year, which was clearly thrown out the window when [Irving] didn’t return, so we’re trying to sort it out. We did, however, play excellent defense. It puts you to the test. And I believe that today was a tremendous lesson for us in that we had to reaffirm some of our values when things got difficult.”
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