Here are my thoughts from the Nets 144-127 victory over the Hawks in Brooklyn on Sunday.
This was the number of points the Nets scored on Sunday in their victory over the Hawks, a season high. 144 is the second most number of points the team has scored in a regulation game in franchise history (behind a franchise-record 147 points at Detroit 4/17/82) and the most points the Nets have scored in a regulation home game in franchise history (previous high: 131 points on 3/15/16 vs. Philadelphia).
Yes, this was against the lowly Atlanta Hawks who are 6-23, the worst team in the league with a -10.8 point differential. Also, worst in the league. But a win is a win.
The number of assists the Nets dished out against the Hawks. Sunday marked the third consecutive games the Nets recorded 30 or more assists. More importantly, the ball is moving, and head coach Kenny Atkinson is pleased with the team’s connectivity and energy on the offensive end. They are passing up good shots for great ones, and that has been key in their excellent play of late.
Kenny talked about the team’s ball movement in his postgame comments.
That is the number of turnovers, starting point guard D’Angelo Russell had on Sunday. Again, this was against the Hawks and rookie point guard Trae Young was guarding him, so not the stiffest competition. But, for someone with a usage rate as high as Russell’s to have no turnovers in 29 minutes is incredible. He finished with 32 points, 7 assists, and was a +23. This was easily one of Russell’s three best games as a Net. We’ve talked before about his future with the team, and it is uncertain at this point. But, he has talent and when he plays well it contributes to winning basketball.
That is the combined points of the Atlanta Hawks’ young stars John Collins and Trae Young. Collins finished with 29 and Young with 13. In a blowout loss, that isn’t much consolation. However, the Nets were up 19 points heading into the 2nd quarter and the Hawks cut it to two with 1:38 left. Collins and Young were key cogs in that run. The Hawks are not a good basketball team, record-wise, but they are a talented team and Atkinson pointed that out in his postgame comments.
Russell agreed with his coach’s sentiments and applauded the young stars despite getting blown out.
That is the number of games the Nets are behind the Orlando Magic, who currently sit in the eighth spot in the playoff race. You’re probably thinking it’s too early to be thinking about playoffs. We are 9 days out from Christmas and by New Year’s Eve half the season will be complete. Atkinson, general manager Sean Marks, and the players all talk about wanting to make the playoffs. A playoff berth would be a positive step for the Nets and continue to build on the culture Atkinson and Marks have started. But, 2019 is the first year the Nets own their own draft pick, and in a loaded class it would be nice to have a pick in the top 4.
We’ve detailed it before, tanking is not how Atkinson and Marks think, so the Nets will go for it. To that end, they’ll need to continue to beat up on teams below them in the standings like the Hawks. They’ll need to run off more winning streaks like the one they’re currently on.