Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 109-99 Win Over The Knicks, Including The Curious Case of Enes Kanter (Video)Read Now
The Nets defeated the Knicks 109-99 on Friday night in Brooklyn. That’s six wins in a row and eight straight at home for the Nets. They are four games above .500 and currently the #6 seed in the east. Here are five thoughts from the game.
1. Ed Davis showed out
The veteran power forward played 28 minutes off the bench scored 17 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and finished +10. He provided the Nets with a much-needed energy boost after a sluggish start defensively, which saw them give up 60 points in the first half to the Knicks. The Nets came into the game off the news that Spencer Dinwiddie has torn ligaments in his finger and would not be available to play Friday night. Perhaps that had an impact on their slow start defensively or maybe the “Knicks wanted it more” at the start. Whatever it was, Davis was able to get the Nets back on track. He was active on the boards as always and unlike the previous few games, he was finishing at the rim.
Following the game, Davis talked about the Nets’ team dynamic and “next man up” mentality.
2. This Nets team is really a collective
On any given night, a different player can be the “star”. That speaks to the belief that head coach Kenny Atkinson has in every single player on the roster. The bench outscored the starters 72-35 Friday night and there were no signs of animosity or ill feelings. Every player was up cheering, high fiving, doing all the things that a close-knit team that cares about winning does.
Shabazz Napier, despite a poor shooting night, had 18 points and was a +7. Theo Pinson who moves back and forth between the Nets and their G League affiliate on Long Island finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and a +19. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 and 7, was a +18. Contributions came from all over the roster, and until this team is back at full strength this is what it will have to be if they are going to remain in the playoff race.
Theo Pinson talked about being ready for his big night, after the game.
3. Players and coaches making in-game adjustments
The Knicks were blitzing and trapping the pick and roll against the Nets on Friday night. Particularly when Shabazz Napier was the ball handler. They would send a bigger body that would make it tough for him to see over or through to make a pass. Unable to make a pass he’d take some tough shots which were partly responsible for his poor shooting night (3-13).
But he’s a veteran and was able to make adjustments. He picked up the pace in the second half and moved the ball quicker, often out to the wing to an open player who would shoot it or drop it off to the open screener cutting to the rim.
Atkinson also inserted D’Angelo Russell (plagued with early foul trouble) who could see over the top with his size and move the ball out a little quicker as well.
Following the game, Atkinson talked about how the team handled the blitz of the pick and roll.
4. The Knicks young talent and Enes Kanter…
This Knicks squad has talent. Kevin Knox, though he didn’t show it tonight, looks like he has the potential to be a 20 point per game player in this league. The questions about his motor coming out of the draft were legitimate. There were times you forgot he was on the floor. That is something with time and excellent player development (do the Knicks have that?) that can be fixed. Noah Vonleh, Trey Burke, Alonzo Trier, and Mitchell Robinson are all players with talent that if put in the right situations and with development (Trier and Robinson especially) can be really good. But right now, they are all just a collection of spare parts, and that’s evident in the team’s 10-37 record. The Knicks are clearly in tank mode and have no interest in winning games right now.
That brings us to the Enes Kanter situation. Kanter was a DNP-CD again. Kanter was told by the coaching staff last game he would start, but instead, he rode the pine. The 26-year-old center is an excellent offensive player and rebounder, something the Knicks could certainly use. But again, they are clearly not trying to win, which is why he’s not playing.
Following the game, Knicks head coach David Fizdale addressed the situation, saying:
We’re fighting for a certain style of play to start building for our future. I want to be able to play a very versatile style in the future and I don’t want to wait to start working at that. And start building that out. And that’s why Lance Thomas (who started Friday) is much more of a Swiss Army knife type of player that can guard multiple positions and switch.
Kanter’s issue is he wants to play and if the team isn’t going to play him he wants to be traded or bought out of his contract so he can become a free agent. Right now he’s not getting a straight answer from the coach or management and it’s frustrating. Kanter did receive some love from the crowd at Barclays Center tonight. He heard chants of “You need Kanter” and “We want Kanter”, both times he acknowledged the crowd.
Following the game, Kanter addressed the difficult situation.
5. 9, 10, and 13
What do those numbers represent? They are three blocks of games that are critical to the Nets’ chances of making the playoffs. They have nine games remaining before the all-star break. You want to head into the break playing well, that way you can enjoy some rest and heal up. The Nets should be riding high as they have four games in that stretch against Chicago, Orlando, and Cleveland.
The next 10 games immediately out of the break will challenge the Nets. The good news there is 7 of the 10 will be at home. The Nets will have to find a way to go 5-2 during that home stretch. There will be tough games against San Antonio, Charlotte, and Portland but good teams win at home.
Those final 13 games heading into the playoffs will more than likely matter for the Nets and determine whether or not they get in, and they are brutal. 9 of the 13 will be on the road and we are talking at Philadelphia, at Milwaukee, at Portland, at Utah, at Indiana, and at Oklahoma City. That is a daunting task. But, turning this ship around was never going to be easy. If the Nets can survive that and make the playoffs, you will really have something in Brooklyn.