The Brooklyn Nets’ terrible defense to start the season (122.5 defensive net rating, second worst in the league via Cleaning the Glass, which filters out garbage time) cost them another game Saturday night. The Pacers put up 125 points, sparked by 32 from red-hot rookie Bennedict Mathurin, plus the team shot 23-of-46 from 3 (50%), and the Nets could not keep up (116), dropping them to 1-5 to open the season.
That led to a players-only meeting after the game, reports Nick Friedell of ESPN.
“It was honest,” Nets swingman Ben Simmons said of the meeting. “We had a conversation. Obviously, I’m not going to talk about, but it was honest. That’s what winning teams do. Hold each other accountable, be able to be open and talk to your teammates, and respect that and be men.”
Nets coach Steve Nash called the game a “disaster” and said he thinks his message to the team is getting through, even if it doesn’t show yet.
“They’re hearing it,” Nash said. “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 fight.”
The lack of “fight” or will is what stands out first about the Nets — they play like a team entitled to wins. Brooklyn isn’t the only team battling this early in the season — Golden State is 3-3 after losing to Charlotte and is playing like an entitled team, but they did win a ring last season. The Warriors feeling entitled is understandable, but the Nets, not so much.
The Nets have a string of winnable games coming up — a rematch with these Pacers, followed by the Bulls, Wizards, and Hornets — but this is the NBA, teams have to play hard and smart every night. Nobody gets to coast to victories.
How much team meetings help is up for debate, but at least the Nets admit the problem. It’s a start.