The Brooklyn Nets continue to deal with significant injuries to All-Star players propelling reserves to vital roles this season.
The Toronto Raptors entered last night’s matchup with the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center riding an impressive hot streak. The Nets snapped the defending NBA Champions 15 game winning streak with a victory to not only close out the season’s first half but remind the league of their roster’s depth.
Players such as Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Joe Harris were essential members of the Nets team that qualified for the playoffs last season. The trio’s exceptional play has been buried in the headlines due to Brooklyn’s prized offseason acquisitions Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. As both All-Stars continue to deal with injuries, the latter Durant unavailable all year due to an Achilles tear, head coach Kenny Atkinson has relied on the services of his young core.
"“Our physicality, the things we were missing in the last two games against them, we just raised that. We wanted it bad,” Kenny Atkinson said during the post-game press conference. “The execution wasn’t perfect, but our will to win was at a super-high level. That’s why we came out with the W.”"
LeVert led the Nets with 20 points. Harris scored 19, while Dinwiddie dropped 17 points, and nine assists to balance the offense. The defensive intensity to hold the red hot Raptors to only 91 points was the determining factor.
"“[This] was really a story about our defense,” Atkinson said. “Obviously, offensively we have a ways to go; [but] that looks like our identity right now, if you say pick one thing that the Nets are doing well.”"
The Nets are currently sitting on the lower half of the eastern conference playoff bracket heading into the All-Star break. The eventual return of Irving shouldn’t disrupt the contributions defensively for the club as it will try and create balanced scoring similar to Wednesday’s victory.