This league had all the superteams in the past. From the likes of the Showtime Lakers, the dominant Celtics, and recently the Miami Heat trio and the Golden State era. But, no other team had ever seen three of the greatest offensively skilled players playing in one team like the Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have been the talk of the season with the acquisition of James Harden in early January. However, with all the starting-caliber players the team has, a lot of people have pointed out the defensive struggles this team has. The Nets are currently 22nd in the league in points allowed per game and a low 26th in defensive rating. These are numbers not shocking to fans when the team was assembled. The question lies in how bad their defense was going to be?
How are the Nets Recently
As we examine their last eight games, the Nets allowed an average of 115 points per game. That’s absurd to think of as we consider the Nets one of the potential championship contenders heading into the playoffs. With a solid 5-5 record over that last ten games, the Nets as expected to be dominant offensively, poured on 119 points per game.
Interestingly enough, even though the Nets allowed that much amount of points, they still average more than we allow. So the question now that lies with the Nets’ defense is can their offensive struggles make up for their low standard defensive outputs?
Is their play of style in both ends enough to succeed in the playoffs?
Looking back on past successful teams that made playoffs success in regards to low defensive ratings, we can see the 2000-2001 Los Angeles Lakers at the top of their list that ranked 22nd in the league in defensive rating. As of right now, they are the only team that finished outside the top 10 in defensive rating to win the title. That’s it that’s the only one.
To be clear, the Nets aren’t bad in their conference, in fact, second in the east. But looking forward to when the playoffs start, there is a lot in store for that team as they would love to prosper on success.
The three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving is expected to perform when the stakes are higher. Just like how Kobe and Shaq did with their squad, we should see some heroics from the three to rally their team to victory.
Things the Nets should look out for
Right now, the major issues of the Nets’ defensive struggles have been on their bench. It is concerning their lack of depth on the frontcourt to man the middle of the paint. Aside from DeAndre Jordan, the Nets had to rely on young big men such as Reggie Perry and Nicolas Claxton to man the middle.
It is clear when in ball screens and actions from the other teams, their lack of experience can be quite evident to watch, which causes easy baskets for the opposing end. As we expect playoff lineups to be more strict and limited, I don’t have this much of a concern of mine heading into the postseason.
That’s why one of the keys that determine the Nets’ playoff chances are the mega trio they have right now. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden should step up on that part of the floor. And of course, they know that. They have been to the top before and they know how locked in teams have to be to win every game. Just like how the Kobe and Shaq era stepped up every time during the postseason, I expect the same drive from that trio to perform come time.
The Means to Victory
One positive that the Nets have in advantage is that they don’t have to be the best defensively. They just have to play enough defense to win. I should stress that the Nets are stacked. Aside from their trio, they have loaded shooters in Gary Harris, Landry Shamet, and Bruce Brown to put out buckets when needed. Veteran forwards, Blake Griffin and Jeff Green are on bounce-back seasons and have a lot of playoff experience. The beauty of this team is that with their offensive dominance this season, the other end has to be just it for them to succeed.
I would love to quote Andre Alvarez of the Wages o Winz Journal as he examined the offensive and defensive rating of NBA teams that made the finals. He stated,
The key to winning in the NBA is point differential. A team needs to be good at offense, defense, or both
Wrapping it up, I expect the Nets to perform really well in the playoffs. With their defensive struggles right now, a lot of weight has to be on the mega trio to take on. Not only that, their offensive outputs and their commitments will be key to whether the Nets will make it out on the east or the finals.