Here’s what we’ve learned from the Nets in the bubble so far.
We’d be lying if we said the Brooklyn Nets haven’t surprised us during the NBA restart. After losing several key players, most of whom are starters — including Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler and Taurean Prince — fans just presumed the team would mail it in and gear up for a potentially deep playoff run next year with a healthy roster.
That notion was only amplified following Brooklyn’s opening blowout loss to the Orlando Magic.
However, the Nets’ makeshift rotation has since rattled off three wins in four games, a stretch that featured a legitimately historic upset (based on the spread) over the Milwaukee Bucks, who have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Amazingly enough, interim head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s side has jumped Orlando in the standings and currently holds a 1.5-game lead for the No. 7 seed with just two games remaining before the playoffs get underway. A potential first round matchup versus the Toronto Raptors sounds the opposite of appealing, but it’s still mind-blowing to think that Brooklyn has played as well as it has.
With the Nets having officially clinched a playoff berth, now seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the three biggest things we’ve learned by watching them in the bubble thus far.
3. Jacque Vaughn Deserves a Chance
Brooklyn’s decision to fire Kenny Atkinson was expectedly met with vitriol among fans and the media. However, in the subsequent months, it’s become clear that maybe the former head coach wasn’t the best long-term fit. After all, he’s best suited developing a young roster and, following the signings of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets no longer filled that bill.
Ironically enough, Atkinson’s canning might have landed Brooklyn its potential HC of the future in Jacque Vaughn, who flaunts a 5-2 record since taking over the job.
The 45-year-old has clearly impressed the Nets’ front office, and deservedly so, as he’s shown a satisfying knack for making in-game adjustments.
We obviously need to see how he manages the likes of Durant and Irving before we make any bold assertions about his potential, but his showing prior to the stoppage of play — which, if you remember, included an impressive upset win over the Los Angeles Lakers — and in the bubble proves he deserves a chance to assert himself when the two superstars return from their respective injuries.