After their matinee victory against the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn Nets have clawed their way back into relevance.
Boy, how the times have changed.
Less than a month ago, the Brooklyn Nets were in the midst of an atrocious eight-game losing streak. Some of the losses were particularly brutal. Brooklyn lost to the decaying Washington Wizards and the abysmal, King-less Cleveland Cavaliers.
The eight-game skid tarnished Brooklyn’s win-loss record, dropping the team to 8-18. At that point in time, the Nets were tied with their crosstown rival, the New York Knicks, for the fifth-worst record in the entire league.
2019 has been good to this young Brooklyn team. Very, very good.
After Sunday afternoon’s convincing 117-100 victory against the Chicago Bulls, the Brooklyn Nets remained undefeated in the new year. They’re 3-0 in January.
D’Angelo Russell has been the centerpiece of all three victories. His decision-making and efficiency have taken a noticeable jump forward. The fourth-year pro is making it look easy in a Brooklyn jersey.
Most of all, Russell is showcasing how much he’s expanded his game—in ways we haven’t seen from him before.
In Brooklyn’s win against the Grizzlies, Russell channeled his inner LeBron James (at least, according to coach Kenny Atkinson). He hurled some beautiful cross-body passes to his teammates and scored at will from midrange.
Sunday’s performance against the Chicago Bulls was perhaps even more encouraging. Russell led Brooklyn in box plus/minus today with an eye-opening +18.
This time, however, Russell resembled a different NBA superstar (and potential MVP candidate) with his six made three-pointers.
C’mon, you mean to tell me that this three-point shooting performance wasn’t a little bit James Harden-esque? The way Russell got hot from the spot-up role? The pull-up three-pointers out of the pick-and-roll? Hell, even the two players’ shooting form is somewhat similar in the way they orient themselves toward the basket.
Admitted overreactions aside, Russell has looked like a different player recently. He continues to break out new aspects of his game on a night-to-night basis.
The Nets are now 12-3 in the last month, tied with the Indiana Pacers and the surging San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the league during that stretch.
This .800 winning percentage over the last 30 days has helped them climb out of a hole that was once seen as impossible to overcome.
The team has a chance to make it four straight wins tomorrow when they face a defensive-minded Boston Celtics team on the road.
If Brooklyn is able to keep their heads above water on a difficult back-to-back, they could climb to .500 for the first time since Nov. 9.