If a game was different last June, the Nets may be looking to defend an NBA title.
Instead, the Nets are still trying to prove they can… defend anyone.
Six of the Nets’ last nine opponents have eclipsed their season-scoring averages by trading baskets in shootouts with the duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who scored the opening goal. It’s a dangerous formula to rely on in the upcoming playoffs, which is why coach Steve Nash is hoping the team leaders will recognize an issue that needs to be addressed after the Nets have 119 points for the Hornets and 123 allowed for the low pistons.
“It’s always most effective when it’s player-led,” Nash said. “You’ll hear me say it over and over again every day. As they push each other for more, you’ll see the defense improve a bit. We’re going to stay on top of them…but I think there’s an element to that when they decide to defend themselves and do it internally, they’re exponentially better than if they had to listen to me every day. ”
As a testament to Nash’s where-there-a-will-it-a-way attitude, it appears that the Nets’ defensive intensity increases with their opponent’s level. In games over the past three weeks, the Hornets, Knicks, Trail Blazers and Pistons have all had better percentages off the floor than the titular 76ers, Mavericks, Jazz and Heat.
Which version of the No. 22 NBA defense (by rating) will face defending champion Bucks Thursday night at the Barclays Center? Another 123 allowed is playing with fire.
“I don’t think it’s ever a good thing for a team to get that many points in a basketball game,” said center Andre Drummond after the Pistons (28th in points standings) topped their average by nearly 19 points. “Buckle up defensively for us from the start and don’t wait until the second half [is the solution] because it can bite us in the butt and we can’t come back.”
While Irving Nash’s plea agreed that the Nets are playing with more “edge” and putting a burden on players to “put our emphasis on the defensive end,” critics are eyeing the sophomore head coach. And they don’t forgive the Nets for not having Landry Shamet – whose defense has risen to another level since joining the Suns in the offseason – or stopper Ben Simmons, who is yet to make his Nets debut after Feb. 21 . 10 Trade.
“I think their offensive power can make up for their lack of defensive ability to some extent. It won’t get you over your shoulder,” ESPN analyst Jay Williams said on First Take on Wednesday. “What happens is that we don’t end up shining a light on the person who has to make this happen: Steve Nash.
“There are a lot of scouts and coaches who don’t think Steve Nash is great at making in-game adjustments. I want to see what junk he throws out over the next two months. We know your team isn’t the best defensively… but now it’s time to show us what’s in your bag.”
Durant didn’t sound as concerned, treating the Pistons’ six 3-pointers in the first quarter as an anomaly. Eight of the NBA’s 13 most efficient offenses (excluding the Nets) are in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.
“It’s good for us to go through phases like this because there will be times in the playoffs where teams get unexpectedly hot — and see how we weather the storm,” Durant said. “So it’s a good test for us and I like it whether we’re playing the Pistons or the Bucks. I think we got better from the situation, we developed as the game progressed, regardless of the opponent.”
The Nets have recalled rookie guard Day’Ron Sharpe from the G-League. Earlier this season, he averaged 6.2 points and five rebounds for the Nets in 32 games, including eight starts. He posted a 30-point, 22-board game for the Long Island Nets this month.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/30/steve-nash-hoping-for-player-led-fix-to-nets-struggling-defense/ Steve Nash hopes ‘player-led’ solution to Nets’ struggling defense