After releasing consecutive games to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Brooklyn Nets are revisiting a recurring theme this season: compensating for the lack of continuity that many of their Eastern Conference counterparts rely on.
The nets fell to Bucks 124-118 despite 32 points from Kevin Durant and 38 from Kyrie Irving. The loss focused on knowledge of the Bucks core, which was built through several deep playoffs.
“It’s a huge factor,” Durant said afterward. “Continuity is a big thing in this league.”
The misfortune of the Nets’ injuries made it difficult to make the connection within a team that already had reason to catch up on a few new players to integrate. The Nets’ Big Three from Durant, Irving and James Harden have played just seven games together. When they only have Irving and Durant on the floor and no Harden, as they do now, the Nets are 7-8.
Meanwhile, Bucks is pushing forward and has won six of his last eight games. Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 36 points on Tuesday night, found a rhythm from the 3-point line. He had four 3-point points in matches against the two, both against the Nets, for the first time in his career, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
Chris Middleton, who played with Antetokounmpo for eight seasons, had 23 points on Tuesday, shooting 4 for 4 from a 3-point range.
“We have a gap here to make up,” said Nets coach Steve Nash. “We understand that this is a team that performs the same offense, plays together, the same schemes in defense for years. It went deep into the playoffs and that’s something we don’t have, so how can we make up for that difference?” It’s the kind of life we have in short that goes home here. “
The nets are working to build fast chemistry, while at the same time struggling for the playoffs. Brooklyn’s loss to Milwaukee put the Philadelphia 76ers in the lead for first place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia, which also lost consecutive games to Bucks in late April, now has two games in the losing streak in Brooklyn. The Sickers, who also hold the tiebreak with the Nets, have the easiest remaining schedule in the NBA, according to BPI.
The Bucks’ loss to the Bucks also ensures that Brooklyn and Milwaukee will finish second and third in the East, although the order in which they finish will be determined. The nets are one game up the losing streak, but Milwaukee holds the tiebreak thanks to those two wins.
Durant said he believed one of the strengths of the networks was their veteran presence. Although they haven’t played that many games together, the Brooklyn players boast individual experience in the playoffs. Durant is a two-time MVP of the NBA Finals. Irving won the championship in 2016. Jeff Green and Joe Harris were also on the teams that made the final runs in Cleveland. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan made the playoffs with the Lob City Clippers.
“There are veterans on this team who have played in different situations who know almost every terminology that happens in this league and every set that we run on both sides,” Durant said. “It’s also to our advantage to have this veteran leadership, but we’re still a connected group.”
Durant said that because of this experience, he felt that the team “had been together for years”, even though it was only one season. Durant added: “We must continue to build on this.”
Nash summarized the other goals of the regular season of the networks as an attempt to return to full health and try to “overcome the lack of common experience.”
“It’s our challenge like everything else,” Nash said. “As we do this, can we be more physical? Can we be more connected? Can we handle and control some of the controls that can help us stay in some of these games and win some of these games while trying to put the pieces together? “