Stuck in a malaise leading up to the All-Star break, the Nets need to snap out of it and rebound, literally and figuratively.
Brooklyn has dropped six of seven games, with five dates left before the All-Star break. And four of those come against winning teams, starting with Houston on Tuesday. The Rockets have the NBA’s second-best mark at 38-13.
“We have a really tough stretch ahead before the All-Star break. It’s more of a mental thing than anything else. It’s about staying tough until the All-Star break, not packing it in early,” Joe Harris said. “Everybody this time of year has the tendency to start thinking about vacations or whatever they have going … and looking forward to the break. We need to stay strong mentally and finish things out.”
That needs to show up on the boards more than anywhere else. They Nets have been out-rebounded 110-74 by the Lakers and Bucks in their last two games.
“We’ve got to rebound the ball. We’ve really struggled and it’s hurt us in the last couple games,” coach Kenny Atkinson said.
“Rebounding is a collective thing. It’s a team effort, and it’s part of that focus and compete level for sure,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “We have to play better team defense, we have to finish our team defense with rebounds, and do a better job collectively and individually.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo twisted his ankle on DeMarre Carroll’s foot and limped off with 7:34 left. But he said he could’ve returned if needed, and hopes to play Tuesday at the Garden.
“It feels great. Oh yeah definitely; I’ve done it in the past,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’ve twisted it twice in the last five games but I just gotta play through it. We have a great medical staff … hopefully I can be there to go on Tuesday versus the Knicks.”
Atkinson said he’d like to see D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie play more together. He needs to get a feel for them on the court together, and have Russell’s minutes increase before he can start.
“It’s a combination of both. I’d love to see them together more and see what that looks like. And then D’Angelo obviously his minutes have to go up for that to work,” said Atkinson. “But it’s something we’ll consider, something we’ll look at. It hasn’t really entered into my mind now with D’Angelo where he is coming off the bench, I think we’re in a good place. But that could easily change.”
After playing together just 1:35 Sunday, they’ve played together in just four of the nine games since Russell’s return from knee surgery. They’ve logged just 13 minutes with a plus-4; but it’s a vast improvement over their time together before Russell’s injury, when they were minus-11 in 46 minutes over eight games.