Things are much different now for the Brooklyn Nets. The team roster has changed, and now they have the latest big three. Brooklyn acquired former MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets. Harden joins his former teammate in Kevin Durant and another elite offensive talent in Kyrie Irving. That is a whole lot of offense on the Nets roster, and that is just three players.
The Nets’ big three made their debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday. Some good things came from their first time on the floor together. The result wasn’t what they wanted, losing the game 147-135. It was a high-scoring affair, and that is a problem for Brooklyn. Their NBA championship aspirations will go down in flames if they can’t fix their fatal flaw.
The Nets allow the Cavs to explode offensively
Looking at the score of the game, it is obvious that both offenses were feeling it during the contest. It was a surprise for Cleveland to have that good of a night offensively, given that they have been porous on that side of the court this season. Going into that game, the Cavs were the worst offensive team in the NBA. They also didn’t have Darius Garland and Kevin Love.
None of that meant anything to the Cavs against Brooklyn. Their offense exploded, fueled by a 42 point performance from Collin Sexton. The Cavs shot the ball really well, shooting over 50% from the field and 3-point range, per ESPN. Brooklyn didn’t seem to have any answers for Cleveland’s offense and trailed most of the game.
The Cavs dominated the interior, outscoring Brooklyn 64-48 in the paint. That could be a direct result of the Nets not having Jarrett Allen. Allen was a defensive anchor, being an excellent shot blocker. He was moved as a part of the Harden trade. Of the eight Cleveland players that played, seven scored in double figures.
Allowing one of the association’s worst offenses to almost put up 150 points isn’t the way Brooklyn was hoping to debut their new big three. The Nets did show some offensive flashes, coming back from a 13-point deficit. However, there’s no hiding their greatest weakness is on the other side of the court.
The Brooklyn Nets’ defense is their biggest weakness
The Nets have the offensive firepower to blow anybody out of the gym. However, if they can’t stop the other team from scoring, it doesn’t help. Brooklyn’s defense can’t be how it is now if they are serious about winning an NBA title. It’s their glaring weakness, and opposing teams know this going into games against them.
Brooklyn sold away their defensive identity by trading away Allen. Deandre Jordan is a serviceable center, but he isn’t the defensive bully like he was with the Clippers. Brooklyn doesn’t have a player who is considered an exceptional defender on their roster. It was evident against Cleveland, who got any shot they wanted. Defense is vital for an NBA championship team, and the Nets don’t have any yet.
Being the first game all three superstar players took the floor together; their defense wasn’t going to be perfect. However, there seemed to be a lack of effort and attention to detail, which are two things that elite defenses have. For a team that lacks a defensive identity or certified defensive player, the effort and attention to detail must be there.
How can Brooklyn fix their defensive woes?
Sometimes fixing a team’s defensive issues is as simple as putting in more effort or having a renewed focus on the defensive end. For the Brooklyn Nets, they need more than that. Yes, they do need to show more of a focused effort into stopping their opponents. If they gave up 145 to the Cavs, imagine what could happen against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nets might have to add another piece or two to their roster to sure up their defense. They lack depth on their roster, so they should be looking to add more pieces anyway. They could look to pick someone up off the street or trade for someone. Trading might not be the best option given the assets they gave up for Harden.
Until they find a player to help the defensive struggles, the Nets must play harder and be sharper on defense. The superstars on the team have to lead by example, putting forth the effort during the game. The Nets’ big three are not known for their defensive prowess, but they can stop someone when they want to. That want to is what needs to come out for them and the rest of the Nets roster.
Defense wins championships, which means the Brooklyn Nets aren’t close to being a championship team. The season is long, and it was their first game together, so it will take time for them to get comfortable and establish chemistry. The offense is there, but the defense needs to join the party if the Nets are serious about becoming NBA champions.