Offensive-minded Nets winning with defense

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The Nets were built to outscore the opposition. To pile up points and possess one of the league’s most aesthetically pleasing lineups.

Their improved defense, however, may be one of the reasons they will take the best record in the Eastern Conference into Wednesday’s game against the Celtics. Monday night, it fueled their latest victory.

“We went to switching everything instead of just 1 through 4. But more importantly than that we said we have to get into bodies,” coach Steve Nash said of the come-from-behind win over the Cavaliers in which the Nets held the Cavs to 49 second-half points and 38 percent shooting from the field. “We kind of shut them down in the second half. That’s what we told them, ‘We have to win this game with defense,’ and they did that. … [Our offense] came off our defense. It came off us getting stops, it came off getting in transition or semi-transition, and getting to actions early and creating better scoring opportunities for ourselves. I think the defense led to the offense.”

blake griffin defends a shot
Blake Griffin defends a shot by Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen.
USA TODAY Sports

At least early, the Nets have been much improved at that end of the floor, producing a defensive rating of 104.7, the eighth-best mark in the league, after finishing in the bottom-third a year ago. That can be attributed to a number of additions, such as guards Patty Mills, Jevon Carter and DeAndre’ Bembry, and wing James Johnson. It has helped mitigate the season-long absence of Kyrie Irving, who is away from the team after his refusal to follow New York City’s vaccine mandate.

“We have a unique situation this year,” Nash said, “and we have to try to enjoy finding an identity with this group.”



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