All of the hype entering the Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors game proved to be a bust. The Nets were blown out by 18 points at home. After only being down by five points at the half, the Warriors ended the third quarter with a 22-point lead that was propelled by a 14-0 run. Steph Curry finished with a game-high 37 points and went 9-of-14 from the 3-point line.
To be fair, it’s no easy task to try to stop Curry. He shot 64.3% from downtown on Tuesday and when he has a hot hand, there’s not really much that can be done. That’s why he’s the MVP favorite. It doesn’t help that Brooklyn’s offense all but disappeared after halftime, either. That’s not a good look for a team that entered the season with high expectations.
But we can’t forget about the defense being an issue. The Nets simply won”t be putting up 120 a night, so they need some competent defenders to neutralize some of their opponents.
The Nets were the preseason title favorites, but if they can’t defend the perimeter they’re not going to make it far into the playoffs. Brooklyn had success in the first half by driving to the rim and making it to the free throw line, but Golden State made adjustments at halftime to fix its perimeter defense. Draymond Green forced Kevin Durant to go 0-for-8 in the third quarter, and there’s nobody on the Nets that can play with a similar defensive intensity.
Bruce Brown signed a one-year qualifying offer to return to Brooklyn this season and that was largely due in part to his perimeter defense, but that’s not enough. The Warriors are a playoff-caliber team that scored at will against the Nets in the second half. Golden State’s top-tier defense is something that the Nets need to emulate (along with their offense, if we’re being honest).
The Brooklyn Nets desperately need to establish a perimeter defense.
Who knows if Kyrie Irving is coming back or not. Brooklyn not only needs to start to look into trading for a guard, but also a player that’ll help to lock down the perimeter. On Tuesday, the Nets started Durant, Brown, James Harden, Blake Griffin and Patty Mills. Bruce is the only one known for his defense.
That starting lineup, or one that features Joe Harris, can’t stop elite offensive teams. Let’s look at Brooklyn’s five losses. Milwaukee scored 127 points, Charlotte scored 111, Miami scored 106, Chicago scored 118 and Golden State scored 117. Those five teams currently sit above .500 and will likely be in the playoffs (with the potential exception of the Hornets).
The Nets held Orlando, Detroit and Washington to a season-low of 90 points on the defensive end, but the Magic and Pistons are the bottom two teams in the East. The Wizards are the best in the conference, but that’s the lone bright spot (and let’s be honest, that’s not going to last). Not good enough. What can Brooklyn do to improve?
Ben Simmons was one of the best defenders last season, and with the possibility leaning towards Irving not returning to the team this year, that’s a potential trade option. Is it a good one? That’s another question. His shooting definitely wouldn’t benefit the Nets. What about finding a way to land Myles Turner from Indiana? He wouldn’t come with baggage like Simmons and he’s one of the top defenders in the NBA.
Regardless of what happens, something is going to need to change if Brooklyn wants to be the last team standing in mid-June. Luckily, the trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 10, so Steve Nash and the front office have time to figure something out. Fix the perimeter defense sooner rather than later, please.