The Nets defense is no longer changing and it is paying off


BOSTON – Before the Nets lost Kyrie Irving, their offseason moves showed they wanted to fix last season’s leaked defense. All their attention has shown them that they know they have no choice but to do it.

The Nets entered Wednesday’s game as a top-10 unit and some Top 5 in every meaningful defensive division against the Celtics. And this is thanks to a thorough overhaul, not just in terms of staffing but also the mood and planning.

The inclusion of frontmen DeAndre Bembry and James Johnson, the pesky Patty Mills, didn’t make a ton of headlines. But he made the Nets better.

“Yes, some guys have come and defended us,” Bembry said. “Obviously Bruce Brown, he is [out] A couple of games; But he’s very active in that startup team, so he started doing that, Kevin [Durant], James [Harden] Locked in, I think we only have one start. Then there are guys like me, James Johnson, Patty coming offensively.

“So this is going to be more robust and offensive to us. Obviously one of the keys they wanted to bring this past summer was some defensive guys and offensive. So some guys who are already here and some new guys. [coming] Together and just more emphatically. “

Wednesday night’s game, LaMarcus Aldridge hit the ball from Celtics’ Jalen Brown.
AP

The Nets entered Wednesday’s third in the NBA in field-goal defense (42.8 percent) and eighth in defensive rating (104.7).

This is the quantum leap for a team that ranked 22nd in defensive rating last season. Part of it is the frustration of the Nets, who know they can’t outdo everyone. But this is Steve Nash’s schematic tweak.

“We’ve changed our scope a little bit,” Durant said.

Or really, not changed. Let us explain.

The Nets were married to change 1-thru-5 last season, but now they’ve gone for more drop coverage. Not only does that suit center LaMarcus Aldridge, but he has done well with Mills, Brown and Jevon Carter.

“Yes it’s good for us,” Bembry said. “We now know who we are defensively: Drop and make it harder for their guards to give it to the big ones. That’s what we’re trying to do, especially when we have Blake [Griffin] At age 5, and he rescues guys who are bigger and more athletic and lob threats than he is. So cutting some big ones is helping us a lot.

“And obviously we’re trying to stick, keep our guards on guard and try to make it harder on their guards and let them run instead of shooting midrange and floaters; Then we change [and] Now they have the type of adjustment they want.

Both Mills and Carter are listed at 6-foot-1 and may be at a height disadvantage on switches, the exact type the Celtics prefer to use. But the pair, along with Brown, have the grit to fight through the screen and make the switch less necessary.

And while the Nets are still weak on the boards due to their small lineup, they managed to get to seventh place on Wednesday in defensive rebounding by trying to keep their small guards from opposing bigs.

“Of course. Last year was a different kind of defensive team, and this year we know who we want defensively, ”Bembry said. “Sometimes, the guards take on that role, and sometimes the big guys are boxing instead of changing every team, as they did last year.

“It’s more defensively not switching 1-through-5 and our little guards trying to box big. We keep our big ones so we can have a better chance of rebounding.… It’s trying to stick to our man defensively, and then go out here and get rebounds. Hitting the body and some small detail things.

The devil is in the details, and the Nets are clearly protected.

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