The Brooklyn Nets were expected to be one of the frontrunners to win the NBA title this season. However, through the first five games, they’ve struggled, to say the least.
Brooklyn Nets Off To A Slow Start in 2021-22
In a recent outing against the Miami Heat, the Nets led by a slim 51-49 margin at the break. But they went on to lose 106-93, dropping them to 2-3 on the season.
The Heat outscored the Nets 48-34 in the paint. Additionally, the Nets were dominated on the backboards 62-42, which in turn, created a 31-4 advantage in second-chance points.
In addition to being without Kyrie Irving — who is out of the rotation until he opts to comply with New York’s vaccine mandate — another member of the Nets’ Big Three is struggling. That player in question is James Harden.
Harden spent the offseason rehabbing a hamstring injury and his production has been limited thus far. In three preseason games, the former MVP was held to single digits twice. After scoring 20 points in the first two games of the regular season, Harden has produced just 15 or fewer points in each of the Nets’ last three contests. The last time such a stretch occurred was back in 2011-12 when he was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Not only has Harden’s scoring dropped, but he also hasn’t been shooting the ball all that great, either. In fact, he is shooting 35.9 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Both marks are career-lows.
“Just getting more confident, being aggressive,” Harden told ESPN after shooting 4-for-12. “And it’s getting better every single game. As much as I want to get back to just, you know, [scoring] 30’s and 40 points, I can’t do that [right now]. As much as I want to, obviously, I would love to.”
Although Harden’s drop in production has contributed to the Nets’ slow start, the team has other concerns as well.
Nets are Struggling Offensively
As expected, Kevin Durant has certainly done his part to help keep the Nets afloat. He has compiled per-game averages of 29.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, and five assists.
As a team, though, the Nets aren’t making the grade in several offensive categories.
Let’s start with scoring. The Nets are averaging 102 points per outing. This places them at 25th in this category. In regards to efficiency, the Nets are averaging 108 points per 100 possessions. This is the second-worst mark in the association.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there for this squad. While the Nets are ranked 15th in three-point shooting (33.9 percent), they are ranked 22nd in overall shooting at 43.2 percent. It is also worth mentioning that the Nets are ranked 24th in assists per game (21.4).
Simply put, these numbers are offensive (pun intended).
Durant provided these comments when asked about the team’s struggles.
“I know what you want me to say. … Yeah, we do miss Kyrie,” Durant said, adding that he likes the effort and defense he is seeing from the Nets. “We do. He’s a part of our team.”But for the most part, we’ve been generating great shots, we’ve been getting into the paint. It’s just a matter of us knocking them down. I think they’ll come.”
Based on what we’ve seen so far, is it time to hit the panic button just yet? Eh, probably not.
Five games is not a large enough sample size to determine how the rest of the season will unfold. Plus if Harden manages to regain his previous form, the Nets still bolster one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in the NBA.
So, despite their early struggles, the Brooklyn Nets are still one of the teams to keep a watchful eye on in the Eastern Conference.
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