So if you occurred upon the Nets early in their return game Friday, you experienced to like what you saw. There was lots of crisp ball motion. There were 5 engaged players, notably Jarrett Allen, who looked as if he’d been locked in a basement for 4 months and had electrical power to spare.
It was Nets 16, Magic 8 in advance of most of the virtual followers experienced even figured out how to adequately cheer.
If you transpired to get there late in the recreation, you almost certainly preferred what you noticed since who doesn’t like an 18- run? Who doesn’t like to see a team wholly melt down and yet another crew totally seize the moment, specifically in a fourth quarter? Fantastic occasions all about!
The challenge, of study course, was the 36 or so minutes in amongst.
That was a different tale. That, in fact, was the only story. The Magic obliterated the Nets the rest of the way, and the ultimate rating was 128-118, and every portion of this 48-minute return to play underlined the extraordinary issues that Jacque Vaughn and his group will have to face for however lengthy their keep in the Orlando bubble lasts.
They are overmatched. They are outnumbered. They bear minor resemblance to what their A-lineup was heading to be if the entire world hadn’t turned upside down. They deficiency dimensions. They are not pretty makeshift, but they are only a couple paces forward of that. It is what it is and they are what they are, and all of that was on screen Friday afternoon.
“We need to embrace that stuff a little bit,” Vaughn explained of the Nets’ require to be scrappy grinders, due to the fact there are couple other choices accessible for them. “We’ll have to be extremely gritty, put a physique on anyone every single solitary possession. That gave us much more than 40 chances to shoot 3s and when teams do that you have to make them fork out.”
The Nets didn’t make the Magic shell out. They skipped 29 of these 42 3s, and although there had been some brilliant spots — exclusively Caris LeVert (17 factors, seven helps) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (24 points, 5-for-8 from 3) — they could not maintain what they started — and they only way this keep in Orlando will not be a total unwatchable mess is if the are able to sustain.
“The very first couple of minutes, that’s how we definitely want to perform,” mentioned Allen, who had 14 details in 27 sound minutes. “After that, they dictated the way the recreation was going to go and when a workforce does that we can not just allow them do it.”
This was often likely to be a distinctive task for the Nets and particularly for Vaughn, who had gotten off to a quite great start out with his new crew, successful equally games immediately after Kenny Atkinson was dismissed and before the league was shut down. The very last memory of the Nets, you could remember, was a 104-102 win in excess of the Lakers, in Los Angeles.
That game felt like a wonderful memory to go out on if participate in under no circumstances resumed, kind of the 40-foot putt on 18 that makes sure you’ll make a tee time as shortly as feasible even if the 107 strokes that arrived before weren’t quite as enjoyable. But it may well be some thing else now, in its place.
Because the Nets now sit in the eighth slot in the East, with the Magic possessing slipped ahead of them. They continue to sit 5 ½ game titles in advance of the Wizards — whom they engage in subsequent in Orlando, Sunday at 2 p.m. If the Wizards can creep inside four video games of the Nets by the end of seeding perform, they’ll pressure a engage in-in.
Now, yes: all that would do would guarantee a 1st-round pairing with the mighty Bucks, and that would undoubtedly be a speedy and pain-free obligation, even when Jamal Crawford arrives to increase a little spice and dash to the Nets’ every day routine. But if you are heading to go to Orlando in the first spot, you almost certainly want to acquire portion in the playoffs. And assuming both the Nets and the Wizards may possibly be in for some really hard periods coming up, that Lakers recreation may well be important.
And so will Sunday.
“We want to get improved,” Vaughn explained. “I consider we will be.”