The Brooklyn Nets improved to 7-3 on the season after a convincing road win against a Toronto Raptors team that was riding high on confidence following the long-awaited return of franchise cornerstone Pascal Siakam.
While Kevin Durant and James Harden carried the load offensively, the main takeaway from the game was Brooklyn’s suffocating defense.
Sure, the Raptors scored 103 points, but that’s pretty much the norm in today’s NBA given how many possessions teams have.
What stood out to us is that the Nets limited Toronto to 47.1% shooting and a remarkable 23.3% behind the three-point line.
The greatest part about the Nets’ defensive turnaround? The Knicks have been a disaster on that end of the floor this season.
The Brooklyn Nets and Knicks are two different teams defensively this season.
That has to feel good for Nets fans, right? Brooklyn caught endless flak for their inability to stop a nosebleed last season. This year, though, there’s a concerted effort to fill out rotations and a willingness to challenge shots, both at the rim and on the perimeter.
That was the Knicks’ calling card in 2020-21 under Tom Thibodeau, who knew he didn’t have the horses to compete offensively, creating 15 men busting their tails on defense every night and competing in nearly every game.
This year, however, New York’s calling card is “Bing Bong,” the phrase heard around the NBA world during a viral video of belligerent fans outside of Madison Square Garden. The grit that willed them into a home playoff series as the No. 4 seed in the East has largely been nowhere to be found early on this season.
In fact, through 10 games, the Knicks rank 27th in points allowed per possession, 25th in points allowed per game, 23rd in opponent three-point field goal percentage and 25th in opponent points off fast breaks!
Last year, the Knicks finished third, first, first and second in those categories. See what we’re saying? It’s literally night and day compared to last season.
We’re not sure who’s responsible for the Nets’ defensive prowess this season. Is it a matter of coaching or something as simple as more attention to detail? Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown have been immense.
What about improved personnel? Tough to deny that Jevon Carter, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Patty Mills have made a profound impact.
You know what? Who cares what it can be attributed to? What matters is that the Nets are suddenly a juggernaut defensively while the Knicks are busy getting cooked by Ricky Rubio, OG Anunoby and Grayson Allen.
What a time.