Nets aim for turnaround against struggling Mavericks
Even as the Brooklyn Nets become a fully healthy team, they continue to slump.
The struggles have been ongoing for over a month and the Nets attempt to halt a three-game losing streak Monday night when they host the Dallas Mavericks and standout rookie Luka Doncic.
On Friday, Spencer Dinwiddie returned from missing 14 games with torn ligaments in his right thumb that required surgery and the Nets sustained a 123-112 home loss to Charlotte. A night later, the Nets turned in an uglier performance by shooting 35.2 percent in a 117-88 loss at Miami.
At 32-33, the Nets are under .500 for the first time since they were 22-23 after a 109-102 win over the Boston Celtics on Jan. 14. That win began a six-game losing streak but since Jan. 25, Brooklyn is 5-10 in its last 15 games and six losses are by double digits.
The Nets are also struggling at home where they have dropped five of their last seven games since Feb. 4. They also are running out of time to bank home wins since a seven-game road trip starts in Oklahoma City on March 13.
"This is kind of like playoff time and teams raise their level, so just playing good defense isn't good enough," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said after his team sustained their most lopsided loss of the season. "We have to take another step up, and the contests have to be a little better, the individual defense has got to be a little better. We've got to turn it up a notch. Just being OK, or good isn't good enough right now with teams desperate to get in the playoffs."
Brooklyn is struggling on both ends during its last three games.
The Nets have lost those games by a combined 49 points, are allowing 121.7 points and 49.3 percent shooting. Offensively, the Nets are averaging 105.3 points on 44 percent shooting and 24.8 percent from 3-point range in this skid.
"A lot of guys are struggling right now shooting the ball," Atkinson said. "We keep trying different guys, different lineups. I think we tried every lineup possible tonight to get it going. It's just not working right now. Our runway is pretty short, so we have to figure it out pretty soon."
Monday against Dallas begins a week where the Nets will play three straight games against teams out of playoff contention as they host Cleveland on Wednesday and visit Atlanta on Saturday. After hosting Detroit next Monday, Brooklyn only has two remaining games against opponents with losing records.
The Nets will be hoping for some better performances by their starters. Joe Harris led the Nets with 15 points Saturday but D'Angelo Russell was held to 10 and the other three starters -- Treveon Graham, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LeVert -- were held to a combined 22 points.
Dallas heads to Brooklyn with six losses in its last seven games.
Like the Nets, the Mavericks produced an ugly showing when they shot a season-worst 30.6 percent, missed 33 of 40 3-point attempts and trailed by 36 in a 111-81 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Each of the Mavericks' defeats in this slide are by nine points or more and they are allowing 114.9 points on 47.2 percent shooting in the last seven games.
"They lost by 30 today too so I know it's going to be pretty tough on Monday when we come to town, so we have to be ready," Dallas guard Tim Hardaway Jr. said of the Nets. They are on a three-game losing streak and we just came off a bad performance at home. So I know they are going to be ready to go."
Doncic continued to produce by leading the Mavericks with 22 points in his first game since turning 20 on Thursday. He is averaging 21 points and has topped 20 points in nine of his last 12 games and 34 times overall.
Monday may be Dirk Nowitzki's final appearance against the Nets. He has not officially announced his retirement and is expected to decide during the summer.
Nowitzki was still recovering from ankle surgery Nov. 21 in Dallas when Doncic scored 21 points in a 119-113 win over the Nets.
Nowitzki is averaging 21 points in 38 career games against the Nets.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 3, 2019