The Nets returned home Monday after the first 5-0 western game in team history, part of a six-game winning streak in the league.
It’s a refund for the Nets, who had it bottom with a humiliating loss in Detroit. By this point – just 14-12 and mired in a three-game losing skid – they have become the hottest basketball team and a favorite to reach the NBA Finals. How did it happen?
They’re understanding the defense, especially change.
Brooklyn has doubled even more since the trade for James Harden.
Prior to Harden’s arrival, the Nets were changing picks 20 percent of the time, 3 percent above the league average. But through his first 14 post-trade games, that jumped to 33 percent, which would lead the league this season according to Second Spectrum tracking. Going in Sunday’s win over the Clippers, had changed a scary 41 percent of choices on the perfect western swing.
In many ways, it makes sense. Only three teams in the track age (from 2013-14) have changed more than 40 percent – the Rockets in the last three years, led by Harden and coached by current Nets assistant Mike D’Antoni.
“Change 1 to 5 when Jeff Green is at 5 p.m., and change from 1 to 4 and fall when DeAndre [Jordan] is at stake. But the encounter that you think they won’t change, will change, ”said Clippers coach Ty Lue.“ It makes teams stagnant. ”
Steve Nash grows as a coach
Nash, who had never served as an assistant, learned at work.
He maintained an optimistic tone but knew when he joined his team after the loss to Detroit. Despite the shortcomings of goalkeeper Bruce Brown as a shooter, Nash has found creative ways to use it as a cutter, screener and pseudo-center 6-foot-2.
And Nash’s settings in Phoenix were impressive. He fired a zone defense that didn’t show up all season to help cool the Suns. He then pulled Jordan out of his usual drop cover and made him change for the first time all season – letting them change from 1 to 5, and daring Deandre Ayton to punish them. It allowed him to slow down from a 21-point deficit at the end of the match, the biggest unbalanced deficit in the team’s history.
The Nets have been pretty tough
The Nets weren’t supposed to be the Bad Boy Pistons; they just couldn’t afford to be historically bad, which is exactly how they were developed.
“This is a non-negotiable step in any team’s aspiration to have this resolution and toughness and connection,” Nash said.
In the first 13 games after the Harden trade, the Nets were only 7-6 and died last in the NBA on defensive rating. But in the winning streak they showed more strength at that end, until 21st. It was enough to see his net rating turn from 18th in the league to fourth.
“Night and day since I came here. We play hard now, and we play smart, ”Harden said.“ The thing I’m most proud of is our mindset every game, every possession. We don’t even take on our opponent, no matter who we play. It’s the same goal. It’s the same mindset. ”
Kevin Durant (left muscle strain) is out Tuesday. The green (contusion of the right shoulder) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (contusion of the right hip) are doubtful, while Tyler Johnson (tightness of the left adductor) and Iman Shumpert (tension of the left muscles) are doubtful. probable.
Harden was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the second time since joining the Nets.