The Brooklyn Nets prepare to fight through a grueling road trip out West and grow with each challenge thrown their way.
The NBA season is a grind with difficult road trips, tough defeats, and little respite. For a young team like the Brooklyn Nets, learning how to fight through these obstacles is part of maturing into a playoff team — and hopefully a championship contender.
Brooklyn head coach, Kenny Atkinson is staring down the next big test for the Nets, which comes in the form of three road games in four nights against dangerous Western Conference squads. The Nets take on the Denver Nuggets on Friday, the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
The road trip is important for the Nets and Atkinson believes that it’s a crucial time where the team can come together and bond. He talked to reporters about the importance of the road trip following the team’s 122-97 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
“This road trip is important. We’ve gotta, you know, we have some winnable games and it’s important for us to bond on the road and continue to progress.”
The game against Minnesota will cap a four-game Western Conference road trip of which Brooklyn has already started off with a win against the lowly Phoenix Suns. The victory over Phoenix was a game that the Nets needed to pull out. Following their 22-point victory over Devin Booker and the Suns, the Nets only need to win one of their next three games to finish the road trip at a respectable 2-2.
But if the Nets are serious about taking the next step and becoming a playoff-caliber team, strong performances in their next three games are a must. Winning two of their next three — no easy feat — would put the Nets at 7-7 and would legitimize Brooklyn as a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Even further, it would give the Nets some validation around the league. They hung with the big boys in the West, on their own turf, no less.
Thus far, Brooklyn’s inconsistency is holding them back. Rewind to Oct. 26 when the Nets held a seven-point lead with fewer than two minutes left to play against the New Orleans Pelicans. But the Nets inexplicably snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and let the Pelicans steal a victory.
They followed this heartbreaking loss with a respectable loss to the Warriors and an embarrassing shellacking at the hands of the Knicks. The loss to the Pelicans appeared to have a carryover effect — an overwhelmingly negative effect.
But Spencer Dinwiddie assumed the role of hero and led Brooklyn to a thrilling overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons. The Nets have won three of their last four — the only loss coming to the Houston Rockets.
But the Nets will not survive this season if they are repeating the process of taking one step forward, followed by two steps back. Winning three of four — including a dominating performance against the Sixers and a mature victory over the Suns — is a definite step forward for Atkinson’s squad.
But failing to build on that momentum in the final three games of the road trip would feel like taking two steps back. This season will continue to have its peaks and valleys, no doubt, but the next three games will tell us a lot about the makeup of this Brooklyn squad.