After a 125-113 loss to the Cavaliers on Friday night, the Brooklyn Nets quit their road trip to Cleveland 0-2 and have a series of defensive breakdowns to revisit at their next movie shoot.
“These are two humiliating losses,” Nets point guard Kyrie Irving said after Friday’s game.
The score was no problem for the Nets, even without Kevin Durant, who did not play after playing for more than 50 minutes in Brooklyn’s double overtime loss on Wednesday. On the defensive side, the Nets could not slow down the Cavaliers in the paint.
In Wednesday’s loss, the Nets gave up 64 points in the paint. They gave up 70 more in Friday’s loss, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen finishing with 19 points off the bench to go with 19 points from center Andre Drummond and 25 points from guard Collin Sexton. The 134 points in the paint are the most Brooklyn has allowed in two games in the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“It’s a lot of points in the paint,” said James Harden, who finished with 19 points and 11 assists. “Offensive rebounds happen, layups happen, good things don’t happen when the ball goes into the paint, and tonight we’ve allowed too much.”
Brooklyn was also passed 50-29 on Friday. The Nets’ 35.6% rebound rate was their worst in a game in the past two seasons.
Allen, who was traded to Cleveland as part of the package that landed Harden in Brooklyn, had been a mainstay of the Nets’ nascent defense. In the last two games against his former team this week, Allen made 23 shots and forced Brooklyn to shoot just 26% on those shots, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information research.
Brooklyn couldn’t find a defensive urgency – 40% of the Cavaliers’ total field goal attempts in their last two games went unchallenged by Nets defensemen. Allen and Taurean Prince, who was also in the trade for Harden, combined to shoot 64% in the last two games.
“You wish it wasn’t against you,” Joe Harris said of Prince and Allen’s performances, “but obviously you’re happy for these guys.”
Now, the message from Nets coach Steve Nash is to walk a tightrope not to panic, but also to improve urgently on the defensive side of the field.
“We just need to find a way to play harder,” Nash said. “Dig deeper. We’re not a defensive formation. We have to be more proud, challenge more shots, fight, tear, scratch, and that’s what I think is missing as much as anything that is schematic as we are. let’s break it down. “
Nash added, “I think the most important message is that just showing up to the gym is not enough.”
The Nets plan to sign forward / center Norvel Pelle once he clears the league’s coronavirus testing protocols, his agents BJ Bass and Tod Seidel, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski told ESPN on Friday. Still, Nash has said repeatedly that Brooklyn cannot count on signing reinforcements to solidify its defense. Instead, he implored the Nets to “look within and take responsibility, make it a priority and try to develop defensively.”
DeAndre Jordan, who is the Nets’ only real active center, said he sees his job as “a defensive force” and a defensive spark plug for the team. Jordan had their hands full with Drummond and Allen, who were 7 for 11 on the field when they were defended by Jordan in the last two games.
“We can’t get too down on ourselves or panic early on,” Jordan said. “Even though a lot of people want us to panic. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Championship teams didn’t come together in a day. They’ve been through struggles. So we have to be able to cope with it. chin and learn from it and eventually come back and answer tomorrow and for the rest of the season. “