Five Thoughts From The Nets’ 113-94 Loss to The Bucks, Including Eric Bledsoe And D’Angelo Russell Going at Each Other (Video)Read Now
Here are five thoughts from the Nets’ 113-94 loss to the Bucks on Monday night at Barclays Center.
1. Poor Shooting
This game was ugly from the start. The Nets offense looked all out of sorts, clunky, clumsy, and disjointed. The passes were off, ball movement wasn’t really there and shots were not falling. Let’s be clear. The Milwaukee Bucks are the best team in the NBA, record-wise. They are the only team in the top 5 in both offensive and defensive rating, 4th and 1st respectively, and they are #1 in net rating. All that is to say, the Bucks defense was responsible for some of the Nets struggles on Monday night. Their length and switchability is a real problem and can take you out of what you want to run. But the Nets were to blame as well. The Nets missed several easy shots at the rim and a lot of open looks. They finished 33-102 from the field, that’s 32%. They were 5-42 from deep, 11.9%.
Following the game, Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson talked about the team’s struggle on offense.
2. The Nets have exhausted their current roster
Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, Jared Dudley, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris are all injured. That’s a lot of defense, three-point shooting, veteran savvy, and shot creation missing from the lineup. Shabazz Napier, Theo Pinson, Treveon Graham, Mitchell Creek, and Dzanan Musa are nice players to fill in and use for spot duty. But, when they are thrust into the lineup and have to play major meaningful minutes, that’s not a recipe for success.
The secret to winning basketball is chemistry, cohesion and every player knowing their role. The problem with injuries is it causes people to fill roles they are not equipped to handle. Coaches and player always preach “next man up” philosophy, and to a certain extent that is true. But there are levels to this. There is a reason some players start, and others come off the bench. There is a reason some players are on an NBA roster and others are in the G league. Players need to be put in positions to succeed, and if that doesn’t happen it could negatively impact confidence and more.
3. The Nets really need the all-star break to get some rest and reset
Three losses in a row and four of their last five. This has not been a good stretch for this undermanned Nets team. Their net rating has dipped back on the negative side, they are only 1 game above .500, and the #7 through #9 seeds are gaining ground.
From now until the beginning of the all-star break (February 14) the Nets play just about every other day. They have games against the Nuggets, Bulls, Raptors, and Cavaliers. At a minimum, they need to go 2-2. It would be helpful if they could steal one of the games against the Nuggets or Raptors. The Nuggets game is at home on Wednesday night, that’s their best chance. Although, these aren’t your father’s Nuggets, or are they? #2 seed in the west, 3rd in offensive rating and 13th in defense, and they boast sleeper MVP candidate Nikola Jokic.
But there is good news on the horizon. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Caris LeVert is back to 5-on-5 practice, and he will ratchet up the scrimmages and contact, as well as get some time in the G league. There is a chance he could be back before the break or immediately after. LeVert was looking like an all-star before the injury and the Nets need him back in the worst way. That schedule coming out of the break and to end the season is brutal. We wrote about it here.
But Atkinson and GM Sean Marks have confidence and faith in the culture they have built in Brooklyn. Prior to the game, Atkinson talked about his performance staff and his confidence that they will be able to get their guys back healthy and get rolling.
More from Atkinson on getting right as they head into the break.
4. Eric Bledsoe took his matchup with D’Angelo Russell personally
This could have been the matchup of the all-star snubs, but as it turned out Dlo was selected as an all-star replacement for injured Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. In a league fueled by competitive fire, and slights you could tell Bledsoe wanted to show why he, should have been selected an all-star.
Early in the game with Dlo on him in an isolation situation, Bledsoe put Dlo in a blender with a cross and spin move. Not to be deterred, Dlo came right back down the floor and drained a triple right in Bledsoe’s face.
Neither player shot the ball particularly well, but the Bucks got the win and Bledsoe finished +13. These teams will meet again on April 1st.
Bledsoe shaking DLo
After the game, Giannis talked about Bledsoe taking his matchup with Dlo personally
5. The Bucks could be a special team
They are 39-13 (best record in the league) and #1 in net rating. The Milwaukee Bucks are good. Really good. Giannis grabs all the attention, as he should. He finished last nights game with 30 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists, and 3 blocks. If there wasn’t a player in Houston by the name of James Harden, Giannis would be the runaway MVP. Regardless, what he’s doing this season can’t be denied. Giannis is averaging 27 ppg, 13 rpg, and 3 apg on 57% shooting this season. His PER is 29.5 and he has a TS% of .630. The scary part is, he could be even better. His jumper is not really reliable. Yet…
What head coach Mike Budenholzer has done is unlock this team’s ability with his “5 out” offense. There is constant motion and action, it allows Giannis to be a primary ball handler at times, creates mismatches all over the floor, and leads to wide open threes.
There is still a third of the season to go, but after 50 games “Bud” likes where his team is. The playoffs will be the true test. How will they adjust when team’s force Giannis to take jumpers and cutters and back screeners are bumped? Will Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Tony Snell shoot it well in the pressure cooker of April and May basketball? Time will tell. But this Bucks team looks the part right now.