Nets already having to ‘look deep inside’ after 1-5 start

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

It’s never good when a team has to hold a players-only meeting six games into the season. But amid a 1-5 start for the Nets, old issues rearing their ugly head and off-the-court drama providing a cloud over the young season already, that’s exactly what happened on Saturday night following a 125-116 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

There is still plenty of basketball to play, in an 82-game schedule the Nets have barely made a dent in it, but the feeling around the team is definitely getting heavier by the day. The Nets were booed off the court after dropping their fourth straight game and have allowed 124.5 points per game during their four-game losing streak 

There had been an expectation going into this season that there would be a learning curve as the Nets’ new big 3 gets accustomed to one another. However, the first few games have shown bigger problems than just the normal process of dusting off the cobwebs after a long offseason. 

And it already has the Nets having to look inward about the whole season.

“Have to look deep; deep inside ourselves and what we want to do, what we want to accomplish,” Nash said postgame. “Do we want to give up on this because it’s been difficult early or do we want to stay the course and start to build something? We’ve had a lotta, lotta really good days here early in the season and we’ve lost a couple games. It’s shook our mentality, shook our mentality hard and we’re not seeing the same competitive spirit, same purpose and if we don’t clean that up it’s not going to get better. The only way to get out of difficult positions is to have character and competitive spirit.”

The Nets have already had one clunker under their belt — an ugly season-opening loss to the New Orleans Pelicans — and a heartbreaker when they fell to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime on Thursday. Brooklyn let the Pacers make a franchise record 23 three-pointers on Saturday and they continued their trend where opposing team players have put up massive numbers against them, with rookie Bennedict Mathurin scoring a career-high 32 points.

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

Nash said that the players have been getting the message of what they need to do, but the constant errors have been hurting the Nets far too much. 

“They’re hearing it,” said Nash on whether the players are absorbing his messaging. “They’re arguing with each other about missing coverages and the lack of communication out there. Just too many errors. Too many errors on top of lack of effort at times. Sometimes it’s not even about schemes, it’s about fighting whether it’s, any defense, if you let a guy run in and grab an offensive rebound unopposed it’s hard to get stops. They’re just gonna get two or three chances at the basket.”

Nothing may paint a picture more of the situation right now in Brooklyn than this: The Nets are the only team with multiple players in the top 10 in points per game with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant yet they still are 1-5 so far. 

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For Durant, he appeared to have Nash’s back and put the onus on the players since the coaches can only do so much. 

“That’s on the individuals. We have to take pride individually. Coach could do so much, tell you what to do, and he’s got a plan for us. At the end of the day coaching matters, chemistry matters, and all that stuff matters but we’re individuals,” Durant said. “We got to be better as individuals and then we’ll bring it to the group and figure it out. Each guy just got to dig down deeper and be better. That’s what it is.”