NETS Defense to be Tested With Upcoming Road Trip

Eric Webb

With their 135-125 win over the New Orleans Pelicans last night, the Brooklyn Nets’ four-game skid is now a thing of the past. However, with their five-game road trip coming up (four vs. West teams) it’s very possible that they go on another skid unless they clean things up defensively.

Their next five opponents are the Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets and the Chicago Bulls.

It’s no secret that seven games into the season the Nets aren’t getting off to the start that they thought they would, at 3-4, but what’s even more alarming is who they’re losing to. In their four game losing streak they lost to the Detroit Pistons (ranked 16 in offense and 24 in defense), Houston Rockets (ranked 29 in defense), Indiana Pacers (ranked 21 in offense) and the Memphis Grizzlies (ranked 29 in offense and 21 in defense).

Besides the Rockets these are all teams that arguably they should have beaten considering they went 42-40 last year, finished as the 6 seed and added players used to winning in Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan as well as some role players.

“We still have a lot of experience to garner with each other,” said Irving after the Nets 134-133 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “So not to get too high or too low, welcome to the big stage. It’s going to be like that sometimes. You’re going to have guys play out of their comfort zone…just try to get better from this. Watch film, get better defensively, just got to compete better on that end, and get more consistency, and then our offense will take care of itself.”

Although the Nets won their bout against the Pelicans last night they definitely could have played better defensively. The Nets allowed the Pelicans to score 125 points, 40 of which came from Brandon Ingram singlehandedly. They also allowed six of the Pelicans to score in double figures. This certainly isn’t going to cut it if the Nets hope to turn things around on this road trip and start meeting their expectations for this season.

The bad defense is definitely going to be problematic when going against the Trailblazers. Although they’ve been inconsistent thus far in the season, the backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is averaging 51.6 PPG and 11.0 APG. Their offense is also ranked 9 in the league.

The Suns are also coming in hot. Their new and improved backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Devin Booker is averaging 34.8 PPG and 13.5 APG. They have the 8 ranked offense in the league and sit at 4-2; certainly a better than expected start to their season.

More so than the Nets’ first two opponents of this road trip, the matchup against the Jazz is a winnable matchup. Donovan Mitchell is doing Donovan Mitchell things by averaging 25.7 PPG shooting 52% from the field and 44% from behind the arc. However, his new backcourt running mate, Mike Conley is only averaging 12.4 PPG and 3.9 APG. The Jazz also have the 25 ranked offense in the league.

Lastly, the matchup against the Nuggets is also winnable. Jamal Murray picked up where he left off last year averaging over 18 PPG, but the Nuggets currently have the 19 ranked offense in the league. They won on Saturday vs. the Trailblazers after dropping two in a row to the Pelicans and Mavericks.

Before coming home the Nets finish of the trip by facing off with the Bulls, who are 2-5, and have the 23 ranked offense in the league.

Now, to make their defensive assignments eve tougher for the upcoming road trip, DeAndre Jordan had to leave the game against the Pelicans with a sprained ankle. Timetable for return is unknown.