For the Nets, hitting their shots isn’t the problem. Taking more of them is.
Brooklyn’s most glaring Achilles’ heel last season was a stark shot differential, giving their opponent far more looks at the basket. And despite being a point of emphasis, the weakness reared its head again in the 127-104, opening loss at Milwaukee.
The Nets allowed 21 more shots than they put up, 105-84. They got mauled 13-5 on the offensive glass and outscored 22-2 off of turnovers. It’s a story that’s played out before.
“We’ve talked about it. We talked about it the night before training camp, we talked about it throughout training camp. So the guys are aware of it,” coach Steve Nash said. “That’s an Achilles’ heel for our team. We’ve got a long ways to go. … It’s a characteristic of our team that just needs constantly to be addressed and to combat that any way we can every night.”
If Nash harped on it in camp, the message clearly didn’t sink in enough. It may not have may that much of an impression on James Harden, but watching it come back to bite them Tuesday against the Bucks drove the message home.
“We haven’t really talked about getting more shots than opponents this entire preseason,” Harden said. “That was a conversation last year for sure, but this year we haven’t talked about it thus far. Now, after this game watching film we’re definitely going to talk about it.”
“It’s our rebounding, 50/50 balls. … We’ve just got to get the ball up. We got to get shots up, shots at the rim, because when we do, we’re a really good team. … We just didn’t get enough shots up, so we’ve got to be better. I felt like our 50/50 balls and rebounding the basketball can help that.”
The Nets led the NBA last season in field-goal percentage (49.4) and Offensive Rating (league-record 117.3), but they were just 21st in shots attempted. It’s an issue Kevin Durant has pointed at as priority No. 1.
“We’ve just got to. We could put more pressure on guys. This is little stuff: Getting back on defense. One hundred field goals, they were killing us on the boards early,” Durant said. “We’ve just got to put our heads down, get the 50/50 balls be a little bit more aggressive.”
Patty Mills was stellar in his Nets debut with 21 points and 7 of 7 from deep. He tied the team record for most 3s in a game off the bench, and the NBA mark for 3s in a debut with a new team.
“We’re going to need that from Patty. We talked the other day about him being aggressive as a scorer to be a playmaker,” Durant said. “We’re going to need that from him. We’re going to need him to run around and create offense and make shots for others and knock down his shots.”
With the Nets in Philadelphia on Friday, Ben Simmons clearly still wants to be traded and wasn’t expected to play in the 76ers opener Wednesday. He got booted from practice by coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday and promptly put his Moorestown (N.J.) home up for sale hours later, according to NBC.