The Brooklyn Nets finished off their first road trip of the season with a 2-3 record. Below are some key points we can take away from the previous five games.
A positive win-loss record is always better than a losing record on a road trip. The Brooklyn Nets, however, can take solace in the fact that they were in a position to win every game, barring the Phoenix blowout. A 1-4 record was looking likely heading into the Chicago game, when both Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert were ruled out with injury.
Enter Joe Harris, who displayed his leadership qualities and inspired the Nets to victory with 22 points and a career-high eight assists. Hopefully, the team takes confidence and momentum from this win and carry it into the next few games. A good roll will kick start their stuttering season.
Blowing big leads
A noticeable concern coming from this road trip was Brooklyn’s inability to hold a double-digit lead, allowing the opposition back into games. The Nets held a 15 point lead at the half in Utah. They came out of the locker room with no energy. Their lack of urgency allowed the Jazz to get back in the game with a 13-0 run to start the second half, cutting the margin down to two points.
Unfortunately, the pattern continued into the next game at Denver. The Nets held a 67-51 lead with 10:06 remaining in the third quarter before again allowing the Nuggets to go on a run and even the score at 79-79, going into the final quarter.
For both of these games, the Brooklyn Nets were in position to close out and beat a highly ranked Western Conference opponent. They couldn’t put the nail in the coffin and ended up throwing away a pair of very winnable games.
Injuries to key personnel
This road trip threw everything at the Nets, and the last thing they needed were injuries to arguably their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert. Aside from the blowout in Phoenix, the worst news to come from this game was LeVert’s thumb injury.
It has been reported that LeVert is expected to “miss several weeks.” This is a massive blow for the Nets and LeVert, who had to deal with his gruesome ankle injury around a similar time of the season last year.
To add salt to their freshly opened wound, reports surfaced that Irving injured his shoulder during the Utah game. He was listed as questionable for Denver before officially being ruled out for the trip to Chicago. His return date is unknown at this stage, however, his injury is seen to be only a minor impingement at this point of time.
New rotation pieces
A big plus to come from this road trip was the emergence of a few new rotation pieces who had only seen sparse minutes previously. In particular, Nicolas Claxton showcased his versatility, playing well at both the four and five spots. The University of Georgia product averaged 4.4 points and 3.0 rebounds in 14 minutes per game off the bench. It was the first time we saw Claxton on an NBA floor and he provided the Nets with much-needed spark and energy.
Another youngster who earned more minutes on this road trip was Dzanan Musa. He averaged 18 minutes per game over the previous five games. He showed glimpses of why he was taken in the first-round of the 2018 draft.
Lastly, the Nets decided to use their vacant roster spot (due to Wilson Chandler’s suspension) on free-agent Iman Shumpert. The former NBA champion played his first game against the Bulls. Although he looked rusty, for the most part he showed he can still make a positive impact on this squad.
This road trip has handed the Brooklyn Nets some obvious challenges both in the loss column and on the injury front. However, they have been able to add some much-needed depth, which will become important as the season winds on. Their schedule softens up slightly over the next half-dozen games as they aim to finish off November on a high note.