Ben Simmons has begun enjoying just like the two-way star the Nets envisioned once they traded for him. Kyrie Irving is again from suspension and has constructed up his minutes. Kevin Durant is Kevin Durant. Coach Steve Nash is gone, one scapegoat sacrificed.
The Nets, getting more healthy and theoretically extra highly effective, are about to embark on a prolonged homestand through which lacking standouts or jet lag or the Los Angeles nightlife or Indiana officiating can’t be blamed for any losses.
If the Nets are going to understand their potential and switch their expertise into victories, there won’t be a extra probably time than the stretch of seven video games over 13 days at Barclays Heart in opposition to beatable opponents, which can start Sunday in opposition to the banged-up Path Blazers.
“I believe that is important for our season,” Irving stated after a loss at Indiana on Friday dropped them to 9/11. “Simply to have the ability to set up some nice habits at dwelling like we’ve been doing, however now we’ll be examined on a seven-game dwelling stretch.
“I’m wanting ahead to simply being in entrance of our followers. However extra essential, being in entrance of our dwelling setting and having the ability to flourish on the market.”
With their three stars again in full power, now could be the time for the Nets to kick it up one other notch.Mitchell Leff/Getty Photos
At instances the Nets have flourished, however in spurts reasonably than lengthy stretches. Durant, Simmons and Irving appeared like a title-contending Massive 3 for 3 quarters in opposition to the Pacers earlier than the Nets unraveled, their protection grew holes they usually have been outscored by 17 factors within the fourth quarter.
Discovering consistency has been the issue, and the built-in excuse is respectable. Their trio of stars has performed collectively for under half their video games. Simmons lacked confidence and was not wholesome on the onset of the marketing campaign. By the point he turned the nook, Irving was suspended.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn has shuffled rotations each out of want and out of experimentation to search out teams of Nets who might defend and rebound, which have been weak spots on a workforce that has not jelled collectively.
Their hope is that a while to bond, to apply and work collectively in Brooklyn as they acquire energy can rescue a squad that has not been at .500 because it was 1-1.
“This homestretch is attention-grabbing for us to ensure that us to maintain enterprise. You get in that area hopefully the place you get guys to return and you may solidify rotations,” Vaughn stated Friday. “That’s what we’re trying to find. We’ve received a few of it by getting Ben enjoying extra minutes now. That piece seems prefer it’s fairly solved.”
The complementary items are nonetheless taking form. After offseason ankle surgical procedure, Seth Curry is bettering, however nonetheless not enjoying back-to-backs. Joe Harris, who additionally had ankle surgical procedure, which ended his 2021-22 season after simply 14 video games, has been a significant disappointment, unable to search out his shot. Yuta Watanabe has appeared like a discover, however has missed three straight video games with a hamstring pressure. T.J. Warren, coming off foot surgical procedure, has but to debut.
“There’s nonetheless some work to be performed to get to know one another,” stated Vaughn, who’s 7-6 since taking on for Nash. “However we do want to begin streamlining this factor and get entering into the fitting course.”
The Nets will open their homestand in opposition to the Blazers, who will likely be with out the injured Damian Lillard, earlier than going through the pitiful Magic on a back-to-back. The Nets gained’t play on consecutive days once more in the course of the homestand, which can embody one energy (the Celtics), a number of strong opponents (Wizards, Raptors and Hawks) and a doormat (Hornets).
“You get just a little little bit of rhythm,” Vaughn stated. “Get an opportunity to look at some movie, get an opportunity to stroll via some issues. All that issues. We haven’t had an opportunity to try this on the highway simply because we’ve been on the highway and attempting to get well. So hopefully we will make the most of that.”
And they should make the most of Durant whereas he nonetheless is perhaps the perfect participant in basketball and is complemented by two respectable and distinctive stars. Simmons has morphed into the dear, do-everything-but-shoot star he had not been for just a few years. Irving has scored at the very least 20 factors in every of his previous three video games and is wanting extra snug.
If the fact ever is to match the theoretical for the Nets, perhaps the subsequent seven video games would be the catalyst.
“It’s solely my fourth recreation again, so I’m nonetheless getting my legs underneath me, catching again right into a rhythm. And we’re nonetheless determining lineups,” Irving stated. “However I believe as soon as we try this, we’ll be in higher form. I don’t wish to maintain coming in [media sessions] and overpromising, however we’re using these video games to determine issues out.”