LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 10: Jacque Vaughn of the Brooklyn Nets yells to the bench during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on March 10, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Let’s take a look at the positives and negatives from the Brooklyn Nets’ first scrimmage in preparation for the NBA’s restart.

Danny Small

The Brooklyn Nets are back. That feels good to write. After more than four months off due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA basketball is finally returning. Sure, it was only a scrimmage and the on-court action was…interesting…but nonetheless, it’s just nice to see guys playing basketball again.

Now, back to whatever happened on the court. It certainly wasn’t pretty out there, but that’s too be expected after such a long layoff. Add in the fact that the Nets are down to a skeleton squad and it’s no surprise that Brooklyn was rusty in the first scrimmage of the bubble.

The Nets were no match for the New Orleans Pelicans, even without Zion Williamson. The Pels held Brooklyn to just 68 points in the 40-minute exhibition. But let’s put the box score aside to look at three positives and three negatives to take away from Brooklyn’s debut in the bubble.

Nets Positives

Conditioning

First things first, the guys who played looked decent from a physical standpoint. Of course, there was some huffing and puffing out there, but most of the guys looked fairly spry considering the long layoff. All five starters (Chris Chiozza, Caris LeVert, Garrett Temple, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Jarrett Allen) played 20-plus minutes. Rodions Kurucs and Dzanan Musa played 20 and 27 minutes off the bench, respectively.

Again, it wasn’t exactly pretty out there, but the guys who played look like they are on track to ramp up their conditioning in time for the Orlando Magic on July 31. Baby steps.

Bubble Environment & TV Broadcast

So far, so good from the NBA. There are zero coronavirus cases in the bubble right now, which can’t be understated. But even beyond the important health concerns, it looks like the NBA is getting it right with the product.

The court looks much better than an empty arena and YES Network did a fantastic job with the first broadcast of a bubble game. Keep your fingers crossed that all this positivity carries over to the real games.

This Game Doesn’t Count

The Nets are very clearly out of sync as a unit and rusty as individuals. They racked up 21 turnovers, mostly as a result of a lack of chemistry. The Nets only managed to score 68 points and their best player, LeVert couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. He shot 5-for-18 from the floor and 0-for-6 from deep. Sheesh.

No harm, no foul. This was a 40-minute scrimmage for a reason. LeVert and the Nets shouldn’t dwell on this poor showing.

Nets Negatives

Secondary Creator

LeVert was off his game on Wednesday night, but don’t worry about him. He’s capable of going off at any given time and dropping 50. We saw that earlier in the season when he led a squad of mostly second-unit guys on a ridiculous comeback against the Boston Celtics. He’ll shake off the rust and find his rhythm once again.

But that’s not the issue. Who else on the Nets can create offense out of nothing? Chiozza? Jamal Crawford? Joe Harris? It won’t be easy for Brooklyn to create offense when LeVert is off the floor. In a seven-game series, he’ll have to play major minutes just to give the Nets any chance of making things interesting.

We shouldn’t read too much into one scrimmage that means nothing, but we knew this was going to be an issue coming into the bubble.

Jarrett Allen Foul Trouble

Allen wasn’t one of the Nets who struggled with foul trouble on Wednesday, but it is scary to think about what head coach Jacque Vaughn will have to do if and when that happens. Without a true center to backup Allen, the Nets are going to have to go small early and often.

Think back to Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers last season. Allen picked up two early fouls, but the Nets had Ed Davis to pick up the slack off the bench. When Davis was hampered by an injury later in the series, the Nets were forced to go small and ultimately couldn’t hang with Philly.

Hunting Chris Chiozza

Again, it’s important to stress the fact that this was a meaningless game, but how Chiozza holds up on the defensive end is a legitimate concern. He’s a pest on the perimeter and his active hands can lead to a lot of deflections.

However, when the playoffs roll around, teams tend to hunt out certain guys and take advantage of mismatches. Chiozza’s size makes him vulnerable in that regard.

There are ways for Vaughn to try and scheme his way out of this problem—drop coverage, off-ball switching, and double teams—but it is going to be something to watch if Chiozza remains in the starting lineup.

Brooklyn Nets Bubble Schedule

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