Effort, not system, biggest issue for Nets so far, says Markieff Morris, Patty Mills

Indiana Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin (00), left, is fouled by Brooklyn Nets forward Markieff Morris, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

Things in Nets world have taken a dramatic turn after the first six games of the season. Brooklyn was in the Eastern conference basement at 1-5 going into Monday’s game with the Indiana Pacers and the team has looked out of sorts at times on the court. 

Nets head coach Steve Nash and his staff implemented a new system in training camp that focused more on ball movement rather than the iso-heavy structure they had last year. The Nets are also trying to get their new Big 3, along with their offseason additions, acclimated to one another. 

But more than anything, both veterans Patty Mills and Markieff Morris have pointed to the team’s effort in the first few games of the year as the reason why things have gotten off on the right foot. 

“We just gotta play a little harder,” Morris said following shootaround on Monday at HSS Training Center. “Put the care factor out there a little bit more. Just try to get a stop. I think we’re arguably the best offensive team in the league; we’ve just gotta take that care over to defense and try to stop some people.”

The Nets have made it a bad habit of letting opposing players put up big numbers against them. In Saturday’s loss against the Pacers, Bennedict Mathurin put up 32 points, and in the game prior to that Luka Dončić had 41 against Brooklyn. 

The defeat to Indiana was their fourth straight and compounded an already tense situation in Kings County that has also included off-the-court drama revolving around a social media post Kyrie Irving put on his platforms last week. 

Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) drives to the basket against Brooklyn Nets guard Patty Mills (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in New York.AP Photo/Noah K. Murray

After the Nets had lost to the Pacers, who Brooklyn faced again on Monday, there was a players-only meeting that occurred. None of the players have publically shared what was said in the meeting, but Morris expressed his frustration that it had gotten out to the media in the first place. 

“I don’t speak on players-only meetings,” he said. “I don’t even know why you guys know about that. That’s something that’s supposed to be between us.”

While the Nets try to work their way out of their slump, Mills and Morris maintained that the group didn’t need to change much.

“I don’t think anything needs fixing just yet I think we need to play a lot harder. We need to execute,” Mills said.  “I think we said that at the beginning of the season in training camp, we felt the vibe of how everyone felt with each other. It’s a group that enjoys each other’s company and that will continue to grow over time. So from that standpoint, it’s good. You know, we’re all in the trenches here together.

“So from a positive, it’s good that we’ve gone through this early so we can figure it out. Just making sure that we do stay together in the trenches to be able to work it all out.”

The Nets have not been strangers to struggles over the past few years. Injuries, COVID and other factors derailed what had been expected to be a big year for them last season, which instead ended with Boston sweeping them in the first round. 

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Now the Nets are facing adversity once again early this season. Morris felt that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though. 

“It’s good to see character and guys with their back against the wall. I like adversity,” he said. “I feel like I play better and am better during adversity because it brings out who you truly are as a man and as a basketball player.”