Brookyln Nets analysis; Ben Simmons performances; Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Nash, news updates

Home » Brookyln Nets analysis; Ben Simmons performances; Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Nash, news updates
Brookyln Nets analysis; Ben Simmons performances; Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Nash, news updates

A Nets team that looked terrible to start the preseason was terrific to end it.

Now the Nets will enter the regular season on the upswing, with their offseason drama behind them and Opening Night on Wednesday against visiting New Orleans up next.

“I think you could feel us improving, turning a little bit of a corner,” coach Steve Nash said. “I feel really good about the group’s energy right now. They’re playing hard, they’re playing together, they’re trying to communicate and do the things that we’ve worked on, and you’re starting to see a little bit of growth in all those principles.”

The growth over the course of the preseason has been apparent, with Ben Simmons playing alongside Kevin Durant in every tuneup and with Kyrie Irving in all but one.

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The Nets were sloppy in earlier losses to Philadelphia and Miami, and they compounded that by getting physically roughed-up by the Bucks. But they kept their heads down, kept at the work and eventually found their footing on the road. With both their effort and offensive execution improved, they led by 19 at Milwaukee and by 20 on Friday at Minneapolis, and cruised to victory in both.

“I would sum it up in a simple word: patient,” Irving said. “We came in with a lot of external noise, so we had to quite that down and then focus in on us exemplifying to one another why we deserve to win every single day.”

All that external noise wasn’t exactly unearned. Irving had contentious contract talks with the Nets and ended up opting in to the final year of his contract. Days later, Durant requested a trade despite signing a $192 million ($309m AUD) extension and then tried to get Nash and general manager Sean Marks fired. That threw the offseason into chaos.

The Nets have spent the preseason putting things back in order. Durant had a sit-down, not only with team owner Joe Tsai, but also with Marks and Nash, the men he’d tried to oust. Issues were aired and complaints were laid bare, most of them about what had been an eroded team culture and lack of accountability.

Ben Simmons and the Nets are starting to gel.Source: AFP

During training camp and the preseason, the Nets took huge strides in rebuilding both.

“It starts first internally, within the team environment and being willing to be uncomfortable,” Irving said. “I think it goes even further than being uncomfortable, but just being willing to be flexible and adapt on the fly and learn things that will help us in the long run, not just right now. We are hammering those details. Preseason was great and the word I would use is patience.”

If the offseason didn’t try everyone’s patience, it’s easy to see how the early preseason could have. Both Irving and Nash chastened the Nets over their effort — or lack thereof — in the first two games.

New assistant coach Igor Kokoskov’s offensive tweaks also started to take hold, as the Nets tried to wean themselves off an overreliance on isolations. After having 41 assists and 53 turnovers in losses to the Sixers and Heat, the Nets improved to 56 assists and 29 turnovers in wins over the Bucks and Timberwolves.

“Overall, as a team I thought we played great. We moved the ball and we’re finding our identity,” Simmons said of the final tuneup, a 112-102 win at the Timberwolves on Friday.

“I’m excited for them, that they’re starting to take steps,” Nash said. “But we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got a lot of growth and a lot of cohesion to build. We need every day we have. We can’t take days off, because this is such a weird group.”A weird group, but one that’s at least showing auspicious signs of coming together just in time for the regular season.

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