They say the mark of a great team is a team that can win the matches they are supposed to win.
Brooklyn has enough talent to win the games they have to, and they’ve done it just enough to top the Eastern charts, but if they want to compete for an NBA title, they need have to figure out how they will win games that don’t necessarily guarantee victory.
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The Nets dropped out Sunday against the Bulls, 111-107, their second loss to their conference opponent in the last month. The Nets fell to 16-7 during the season, just half a game against the Bulls, and 1.5 games against the Milwaukee Bucks, who eventually got their team healthy again.
Brooklyn hasn’t performed well this season against the teams they will likely face in the knockout stages. On opening night, they were beaten by defending champions, who beat the 76ers a few nights later, but have since lost to Charlotte, Miami, Chicago (twice), Golden State and Phoenix.
The Nets are currently 0-6 ahead of the opposing teams. Unbeatable quality.
“It is very early for this group,” Nets coach Steve Nash said recently. “We have had many people injured. We have 10 new players. A lot of guys with different backgrounds, different histories, different habits are trying to fit in.”
To be fair, Brooklyn probably didn’t expect without Kyrie Irving as they geared up for the season, and Nash had to scramble and try to figure out his change right away, but a team with the best. Names like Kevin Durant and James Harden on its roster still have to have enough talent to compete with the NBA’s upper echelons.
However, Harden’s play has been the most interested in this season. Harden shot just 5 of 21 points from the pitch to have 14 points and 14 assists on Sunday.
The nine-time All-Star is averaging 20.9 points per game this season, his lowest since the 2011-12 season when he was still with Oklahoma. Brooklyn is 9-2 this season when James Harden scores 20 or more points in a game, 5-0 when Harden scores 25 or more and just 7-5 when Harden scores under 20.
Those numbers speak for themselves – if Brooklyn has any chance of beating competitive teams without Irving, it’s crucial for Harden to rediscover the form that helped him win the MVP title last year. 2018.
The Nets are now gearing up for a four-game road trip against Houston, Dallas, Atlanta and Detroit. While most of those people would be guaranteed victory on paper, the Nets have learned that games are not actually played on paper, but rather in real-life arenas.
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