The Brooklyn Nets’ overtime home opener versus the Minnesota Timberwolves had it all… except the storybook ending.
- Minnesota Timberwolves 127 (1-0)
- Brooklyn Nets 126 (0-1)
- NBA, Final, Box Score
- Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Well, that was something, now wasn’t it?
During a night of soaring highs and crushing lows, the Brooklyn Nets pushed the exciting upstart Minnesota Timberwolves to the brink of overtime before falling one. bucket. short. Just one!
With the Barclays Center crowd howling at the top of their lungs, Brooklyn flaunted an updated offense and a new, shiny floor general. The game itself featured multiple scoring runs from both ballclubs and heaps of takeaways. Let’s quickly go through it all.
— ESNY (@EliteSportsNY) October 24, 2019
Kyrie Irving is a magician. A sorcerer. Perhaps even a witch. Should we see if he floats as a tester? Something just isn’t right with this guy. Fifty points in his very first game? A franchise-record? On 33 shots? WHAT!?! How?!?!?
Oh, but it gets better. Credit to The Athletic’s Zach Harper (incredible Twitter follow, by the way): Irving put together the first 50-point, eight-assist, seven-rebound game with zero turnovers.
Uncle Drew appeared right at home in his
new (old, technically?) Brooklyn landscape, launching clutch shots in near excess. He nearly carried all of Brooklyn on his back from a massive deficit, which at one point sat at 18 points. On top of his scoring, Irving made a concerted effort at involving his new Net buddies. This included his sweet shooting teammate Joe Harris whom Irving fed during multiple transition possessions. Here’s a splendid one:
Kyrie Irving ligeiramente com uma assistência sem olhar para o Joe Harris. 🔥
— NBA do Povo 🏀🇧🇷 (@NBAdoPovo) October 24, 2019
Speaking of our guy FIBA Joe, he was one of three Brooklyn starters to shoot above 40% from three: Taurean Prince went 2-for-5 (with 15 points in his official Brooklyn debut), Irving shot 7-for-15, and the aforementioned bearded mercenary landed four of his six looks from deep. Picking up right where he left off from the international tournament, I see!
As a whole, Brooklyn shot 44.1% from three as a team, which according to my notes, is damn good — especially in the face of multiple staunch perimeter defenders (i.e. Robert Convington and Josh Okogie).
Before we move on, credit to Caris LeVert, who put up a 20-point performance to start his season off on the right foot.
Hey, remember when the Nets’ defense appeared grossly sluggish against the defending champion Toronto Raptors, who by the way could barely generate offense during Tuesday night’s season opener? Remember how folks just brushed it off as ahh, it’s just preseason?
Can we be concerned now? Because hole-y-lord this defense needs work. Look, there might be a layover effect from the China trip. But this lackadaisical approach to defending the perimeter is an unfortunate carry-over from last season. The Nets appeared dazed in transition, failing to match up correctly.
The Timberwolves took advantage, dishing the ball around the perimeter until the midwest monsters found open shooters. In the halfcourt, Brooklyn’s zone defense appeared cluttered, and many times, multiple Brooklyn defenders would converge onto the same offensive player, leaving open Timberwolves in the corner.
The Wolves would finish with 43 total three-point shots. This should come as no surprise, considering they finished third in average three-point shots during the preseason (with 41.8 per game). Fortunately for Brooklyn, their competitor only landed 15 of those deep-balls, as Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham and Andrew Wiggins shot a combined 0-for-13.
What exactly is the answer to these problems? Well, that’s the million-dollar question. The coaching staff (and I, for that matter) will have to parse through the film to see exactly what went wrong. But one thing was clear: This Nets team needs to communicate better, especially during opponent fast breaks. Someone has to call out those damn matchups.
Word to the wise…
Don’t let Karl Anthony-Towns drop 33 points on 50% shooting. Predictably, the perpetually underrated superstar proved to be a monster to handle at the Barclays. Brooklyn’s bigs — which typically roam exclusively in the paint to contest smaller players — didn’t know what hit them; KAT shot 7-of-11 (!!!) from deep. Towards the end of the game, Jarrett Allen began contesting Towns’ threes. But at this point, it was too late. I mean, shoot, the dude hit a jab-step freaking three as a 6-foot-11 center.
Brooklyn’s other center, bless his heart, was borderline unplayable. I hate to bash a player like this — it’s not like me! — but goodness this wasn’t the matchup for Brooklyn’s $40 million backup. DeAndre Jordan is an old school center; he’s not used to stepping up to these damn kids and their three-pointers! Well, that showed. In the end, Jordan finished with two points, three rebounds, and zero blocks in 17 minutes.
Overall, this was an impressive performance from Brooklyn’s point guard of the future, Kyrie Irving. Head coach Kenny Atkinson, meanwhile, has a plate-full of things to work on — especially on defense — before the Nets face their crosstown rival New York Knicks on Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET.