Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.
1) Nash out in Brooklyn; loss to Bulls shows problems remain
How insane did things get Tuesday in Brooklyn? The guy with the most leverage in the locker room, the guy who called for Steve Nash to be fired over the summer, was “shocked” Nash was fired.
Kevin Durant said he was shocked to find out that Steve Nash was no longer head coach. #Nets #NBA #NetsWorld
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) November 2, 2022
That response is both funny and sad. Someone was going to pay the price for the Nets’ slow start and Nash became that scapegoat on Tuesday, with Brooklyn and Nash saying it was a mutual parting of the ways. Maybe it was. Maybe Nash realized his life would be better without the Nets in it.
After all, Brooklyn is an organization where Kyrie Irving can Tweet out a link to a movie widely considered anti-Semitic (among other things), have the team and the owner disavow everything to do with the film and say that’s not what they stand for, then turn around and play him 40 minutes Tuesday night against the Bulls. Because they need him to have any shot at winning.
That’s the Nets’ culture in a nutshell. This is the same organization that took the moral high ground last season and said if Irving wasn’t vaccinated he couldn’t play on the road with the team (not just the home games, where the New York City vaccine mandate stopped him from coming to work). Well, the Nets took the moral high ground until they lost too many games and Durant wanted Irving back, then they pivoted to letting Irving play on the road.
It’s the same culture that reportedly is close to replacing Nash with Ime Udoka, the coach who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals a season ago and then violated so many team rules/regulations, crossed so many lines around a sexual relationship with a woman in the organization that the team investigated then suspended him for the season. Take that in for a minute: While the Celtics and CAA (Udoka’s agents) have been able to keep a lid on the details of the accusations, it was serious enough for Boston to say its culture and people mattered more than what a winning coach brought on the court.
The Nets are close to saying “no worries here, come on in.” Reportedly because it’s what the Nets’ star players want him (Udoka is a former Nets assistant who has a good relationship with Durant). What is the message to women working in that organization?
No coach will solve all the Nets’ issues — this roster has fundamental problems. Nash was not the solution to the Nets’ issues, but he wasn’t the cause of them, either. Nash was not to blame for the lack of rim protection on defense, Ben Simmons being afraid to shoot, injuries to the guys who can shoot, or Irving being Irving.
All those flaws were on display Tuesday night. Zach LaVine outscored the Nets 20-19 in the fourth quarter, leading Chicago to a 108-99 win in Brooklyn. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 32 (and had to defend 7-footer Nikola Vucevic for long stretches because nobody else could), while Irving had a rough night.
His fewest points in a game as a Net. pic.twitter.com/feds2Ndcuz
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 2, 2022
With that loss, the Nets are 2-6. It’s not some impossible hole for Brooklyn to find its way out of, but it’s a sign of the issues — teams usually win “the coach was fired” game because they hustle more, play with some emotion. Didn’t happen in Brooklyn.
Whatever is next in Brooklyn, you can bet it’s going to be dramatic and a little insane. It makes for great reality television, just not always great basketball.
2) Warriors fall to 3-5 with loss to Heat
It wasn’t the f****** championship Butler promised, but it is a quality win and a step in the right direction.
The Warriors are the team with the reputation for having shooters everywhere, but it was the Heat 3-pointers that were falling Tuesday night: Duncan Robinson hit 5-of-8 and Max Strus 4-of-10 off the bench, while Kyle Lowry drains 3-of-8. With those falling, it let Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo get downhill against the Warriors’ defense.
Strus got loose and led us in scoring tonight 👌 pic.twitter.com/vtNwUJ7dVq
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 2, 2022
Miami closed the game on a 7-0 run to take the 116-109 victory, and both teams are now 3-5 on the young season (and both are disappointed with that number). Butler had the dagger.
JIMMY BUTLER CALLS GAME 😱pic.twitter.com/yG6Ni64Uq1
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 2, 2022
Miami won for a few reasons, and while Warriors fans will argue it was an overturned call, the actual biggest issue was the Warriors never really figured out how to punish the Heat’s zone defense. Butler stepped up against the Warriors and that’s a positive; the bad news is Tyler Herro left the game after 10 minutes with a bruised eye (that’s why there were so many Duncan Robinson minutes).
Stephen Curry put on a show and dropped a triple-double of 23 points, 13 boards and 13 assists.
Steph from the arena logo 🎯 pic.twitter.com/Y38me0tQ9X
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 2, 2022
Showtime Steph 😱 pic.twitter.com/bSF3LZliAQ
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 2, 2022
The Warriors are 0-3 to start their five-game road trip, with Orlando and New Orleans back-to-back Thursday and Friday to close it all out.
3) Suns beat Timberwolves and Minnesota’s schedule gets tougher
The Timberwolves’ first seven games this season had three against the Spurs, two against the Thunder, and one each against the Jazz and Lakers — preseason, Los Angeles was seen as the best of those squads. Minnesota went 4-3 in those games.
Now the schedule gets real, and it started with Phoenix — the Suns put up a 116-107 win behind 29 points from Cameron Johnson.
The Suns are the hottest team in the West, winners of five in a row and are 6-1 to start the season with a top-five offense and defense. It’s a long season, but the signs are promising early in the Valley of the Sun.
The Timberwolves still have a lot of puzzle pieces to figure out how to fit together, starting with Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns — lineups with both have a -2.4 net rating so far this season.
The schedule does not get any easier for the Timberwolves, who have the Bucks up next.