Brooklyn Nets: The Nets and the ‘score or die’ style of play

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 7: Spencer Dinwiddie
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 7: Spencer Dinwiddie /
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 7: Spencer Dinwiddie
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 7: Spencer Dinwiddie /

The Brooklyn Nets have learned they will be without D’Angelo Russell for a bit of time. With their score or die style of play, will they need to step up on defense to win without him?

When the Nets traded for D’Angelo Russell in June,  it was a move that surprised many people. The Nets managed to get the second overall pick in the 2015 draft just by taking on a bad contract. There was something that didn’t surprise many however. That’s the fact the team was looking to add a player like Russell.

Not only did Russell immediately become the Nets best player, but he fit well with head coach Kenny Atkinson’s style of play. Along with the acquisitions of Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll, many felt Russell could thrive with this new system. In their first four games this season, those fans stood corrected. Russell started the season very well, averaging 23 points and shooting 52% in his first four games.

Atkinson’s system has been sensational as well. Through their first four games, the Nets had led the league in scoring. The team has averaged 123.5 points per game and can score with the best of them. Also, the Nets put themselves in good company with an interesting stat. That stat is that the Nets are the first team since the 1988-89 Portland Trail Blazers to score 115+ points in each of their first three games. A very interesting one, and one that should interest Nets fans. However, Nets fans shouldn’t be surprised by this. Fans knew coming into the season that Atkinson’s offense would be potent, it was the defense that was suspect. So far, that statement has held true.

The Nets, while first in points scored per game, were 26th in points allowed per game through four games. The Nets in their first four contests had given up 111.3 points per game on average. That says a lot about the team’s defensive abilities thus far. Nevertheless, their offense is what has kept them in ball games early in the season.

However while their offense has kept them in games, it recently has struggled. As a result, the Nets have lost games due to their inability to get stops. The Nets suffered three straight losses after that win over Cleveland. The Nets would win a late night contest against the Suns to snap that three game losing streak. This win was important because it was the first time all season the Nets held a team under 100 points. The Nets also held the Blazers to under 100 points last Friday. This of course was the second time all season they did this as well as the second time in that week.

The reason this is huge progress for the team is because their offense has been very consistent. However you can’t always rely on your offense to win you games. Now that the Nets are starting to find their groove on defense, this team may start to raise eyebrows. There is one problem though. In a loss to Utah on Saturday night, Russell would go down with a knee injury. Sunday morning we found out Russell suffered a left knee contusion. For a team that may have began to find their rhythm and groove, this is a tough blow.

The Nets will now look to guard Spencer Dinwiddie to run the offense and take the bulk of Russell’s minutes. With the Nets missing both of their starting guards, the offense may start to look a bit different now. We will most likely see Russell back sometime soon. After all, the Nets have listed him as day-to-day with his injury. For now though, Dinwiddie will run coach Atkinson’s offense for the time being.

Next: The Nets had to go young

For the Nets, due to their poor defensive showing thus far, they may very well have to play score or die basketball. With the way their offense is though, they can very well win more games than they did last year just by outscoring teams. Just imagine if they manage to find their groove on defense.