The Brooklyn Nets head into Wednesday night’s home game against the Indiana Pacers having dropped three straight games after Tuesday night’s loss in Detroit, their record slipping to 14-12.
A week ago, the Nets were coming off a win over the LA Clippers, having won nine of their last 12 games. But Friday night’s loss to Toronto was disrupted by the uncertainty over Kevin Durant relative to the league’s health and safety protocols, with him entering the game in the first quarter and then being removed in the third.
The Nets were without both Durant and Kyrie Irving the following night against Philadelphia, and Durant remains out through Wednesday night’s game.
Against the Pistons on Tuesday, the Nets got a double-double from James Harden and 27 points from Irving, but never really recovered from the 13-0 run they surrendered in the game’s opening minutes.
“It's up to the team to decide what type of team they want to be, what they want to get out of this experience,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “I'm sure every team is going through this to some extent, with the heavy schedule, missing bodies, all sorts of stuff thrown at us, so I don't think we're in isolation here. I think there's a lot of teams that struggle with this from different nights. But I think our team needs to challenge themselves and figure out who they want to be, and what they want to represent together.
“So, having played the game, a certain amount of that comes down to team building within that locker room, and deciding if they want to come together and be a force, or if that's not as important. And I think right now they've been tested here whether they want to become that team that is tough and connected and competitive every single night. And that’s got to come from within that room. As coaches we’ll keep trying to get better and solve some of the issues but I think the number one issue on a night like tonight was just the competitive spirit start the game, particularly.”
IRVING RETURNS TO ACTION
After missing Saturday’s game in Philadelphia with a finger sprain, Kyrie Irving returned to score 27 points with seven assists Tuesday night in Detroit on the front end of a back-to-back.
“I think he's okay to continue,” said Steve Nash. “I thought he played pretty well tonight. It wasn't classic by him but he obviously had some incredible plays and produced, so I think there's every reason to believe he can play through it and at the same time getting a comfort with where it's at. Whatever the finger presents, the finger will present. And if he's able to play, he's a tough cookie and will play and if he's not, he needs rest. So, we'll see how it goes but I think he'll be able to play.
NASH ON VONLEH
With the signing of Noah Vonleh announced late in the afternoon on Monday, Steve Nash was able to comment on the new acquisition before Tuesday night’s game. Vonleh made his Nets debut with a few minutes of action late in the fourth quarter of the 122-111 loss.
“His history, I think, is a guy that can rebound, physical 4/5, who can be a little versatile at the 5 position, can make a 3 but is a little more dynamic around the basket as an undersized 5,” saide Nash. “That's, I think, an opportunity for him to give us some diversity there. But first and foremost, we’ve got to see what kind of shape he's in and how long it will take to get him into a place where he can contribute.”
HAMSTRING SIDELINES SHUMPERT
Recently acquired guard Iman Shumpert was out on Tuesday night with a hamstring strain, and Steve Nash said it was likely Shumpert would remain sidelined for several games. Signed on Jan. 30, Shumpert has not yet appeared in a game this season for Brooklyn.
“I think one of his early workouts he did something to it and I think it’s gonna take a little bit of time here, so I don’t know if I have a date for you, but I think a week or two is fair to say, and we’ll just monitor the situation,” said Nash. “Not a ton to report there, let’s hope it’s not obviously gonna keep him out long and that he can get himself in shape, because I think that was the thing. He was at the stage where he was trying to get himself into shape, and to have a setback like that, he’s still got to get himself in shape when he’s healthy again. We’re hopeful that it’s not so bad and he can get back there getting his rhythm and fitness back.”
ABOUT THE PACERS
The Indiana Pacers are 12-12 after having lost their last three games. Indiana is seventh in the NBA in field goal percentage (47.5), sixth in assists (26.8) and steals (8.5) and fifth in blocks 5.8. the Pacers are 28th in the league in opponent 3-point field goal percentage allowed (39.2). Malcolm Brogdon leads the Pacers with 21.7 points and 6.7 assists per game. Domantas Sabonis leads the Pacers with 11.7 rebounds per game and averages 21.0 points.