Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) reacts after scoring against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The Brooklyn Nets have been surprising many people and teams with their play this season. With not much talent on the current roster, why is this team able to pull off wins and do the things they’re doing?
There’s 7:36 left in the fourth quarter. The Nets find themselves down 23 points by a score of 112-89. The Brooklyn bunch is in Boston for their first game of the new season, and the team is already beginning to look like the Nets team of old that fans struggled to watch last season.
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Kenny Atkinson seemed to wave the white flag with 3:57 remaining in the fourth quarter as the Celtics had a 17 point lead. Although the Nets looked to give up with just under four minutes remaining, the Nets only lost by five points by a score of 122-117. The reason being? This is a new Nets team.
The Nets would battle back and cut down the Celtics lead. They would at one point get the lead as low as just three points. All thanks in part to the hustle and the never give up mentality that Coach Atkinson has aimed to get out of his players this season. It doesn’t matter who is in the game, what the score is, and how much time is left, Atkinson has tried to make sure everybody is playing valuable minutes and taking advantage of their minutes.
Oct 31, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin (7) looks to pass as Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) defends during the third quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
How have the Nets played?
In nearly every game so far this season, this team has fought and battled, for a full 48 minutes. When you do that, you will find yourself in a position to be competitive and win ballgames down the stretch. And that’s exactly what Atkinson and his squad will look to do, just simply win.
The Nets would find themselves with a record of 2-3 when the news broke that after exiting early in a win against the Detroit Pistons, one of the newest members of the Nets and Brooklyn’s big offseason signing, Jeremy Lin would be out at least two weeks with a hamstring injury. This was a big blow to a Nets team who isn’t predicted to win many games. With no Lin, the Nets and their fans began to wonder if it was time to panic. It looked very bleak and it seemed like it would be a long two weeks.
However, Nets have won the same amount of games with Lin as they did without him. Granted, it was only two games and they’ve played more total games without Lin, but it shows something that previous Nets teams haven’t had. That’s the ability to turn to their bench and be confident that players 1-15 can suit up and get the job done for them on a nightly basis. Whether it’s Chris McCullough, Brook Lopez or Anthony Bennett, the Nets have shown they can get the job done with the pieces on the floor night in and night out.
Nov 12, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick (6) shoots the ball over Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) during the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Nets’ early success has surprised the NBA
The Nets recent success has come as a surprise to everyone, except maybe fans of the team. No one besides Nets fans thought they would be competitive this year, including other NBA teams.
If the season opener in Boston is any indication, it’s clear that other teams don’t expect the Nets to be able to battle back in games, and really be competitive in general. After holding a 23 point fourth quarter lead, the Celtics still nearly blew the big lead thanks to the surprising play of the team that was supposed to be considered the league’s worst by many.
The team has picked up impressive wins against the likes of Detroit and Indiana and has shown much promise in the early stages of the season.
As previously mentioned though, the Nets early play doesn’t surprise their fanbase. Why? Because they have gotten a look into this team and seen the work Sean Marks has done in his first year with the team. After being named Nets general manager in January, Marks has made a number of smart and crafty moves that appear to have paid off. Moves such as signing Sean Kilpatrick last season and hiring the man behind the success, Kenny Atkinson. Kilpatrick has become a vital piece to the Nets, while Atkinson has done a great job winning games with the talent that’s been placed in front of him on a nightly basis.
There are still many questions surrounding this team and after only 11 games, anything can still happen. But if I had to give an analysis of the Nets, I’d have to say this team is going to be alright. If they continue to play like this and can manage to stay competitive even when they’ve suffered key injuries, they can be very successful.
This team has looked like more of a team than any other team we’ve seen the Nets put on the floor since the move to Brooklyn. They may not have the talent of other teams that they will be facing on a nightly basis, but they finally look like a team. They can credit that to two things: chemistry and relationships.
Nov 8, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Members of the Brooklyn Nets including Brooklyn Nets point guard Jeremy Lin (second from right) react during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Nets have built chemistry
Kenny Atkinson and his floor general, Jeremy Lin, have a relationship that dates back to the Linsanity days. Lin even credits Atkinson with the reason Linsanity was what it was. They’re just two guys who really have an understanding for the game of basketball and love the game itself and working with one another. They also came to Brooklyn with the common goal of making the team respectable once again, and bringing a championship to the borough sooner than later.
The chemistry is something as well that has been well documented. These guys flat out love playing with one another and it’s obvious. The unselfish group of players on this team just want to win and improve each and every night. From Lin and Lopez, to Booker and Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets group of guys know each other well and have a knack for each other on the court. That’s something you cannot teach or force, it needs to truly be ignited, and that’s why what the Nets are doing can be looked at as special.
Through it all though, the Nets are looking to be in good shape. It’s still early, but Marks and Atkinson appear to have built a championship foundation and culture, something it takes teams years to create. That should excite Nets fans, because after all, the last ten years have not been so pretty.