Brooklyn Nets: Three Takeaways from the Win Over the Spurs (3/1/2021)
The Brooklyn Nets have broken the Alamo curse. They put an end to the 6,978-day streak without a win in San Antonio as Brooklyn pulled out an overtime win last night against a Spurs team that just wouldn’t quit.
With the victory and the Brooklyn Nets’ ninth in 10 games, here are three takeaways for the Nets moving forward.
Brooklyn Nets stars hit shots when it matters
Despite some end of regulation shenanigans allowing the Spurs to push the game into overtime, James Harden and Kyrie Irving came up big when it mattered most, in overtime. That duo scored 11 of Brooklyn’s 16 points in the final five-minute period as the Nets pulled away fairly quickly and held on to pull out the victory.
While Irving struggled a bit at times on Monday night, his play stepped up down the stretch as he finished with 27 points, seven assists, and six rebounds on 9-24 shooting and 6-10 from three. His backcourt mate Harden put up his seventh triple-double with a ridiculous 30-point, 15-assists, 14-rebound performance on 12-23 shooting from the floor and 3-7 from behind the arc. In fact, with zero turnovers, the Beard is the first player in 44 years to have a 30+ point, 15+ assist, 10+ rebound game without turning the ball over once.
With those two guys on the court, it’s evident that Brooklyn will always be in games. The ability to rely on each of their innate scoring ability is a relief in late-game scenarios and just emphasizes how good this offense will be once Kevin Durant returns likely after the All-Star break.
While Irving and Harden pulled out the win for the Nets, Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton were the x-factors.
Brown, who is averaging 18.2 points per game in his last five contests, put up 23 points on 10-13 shooting and 2-3 from deep. His ability to knock down a couple of deep balls is encouraging considering he’s shot 25.8% this season. Additionally, he continues to be deadly in the midrange and at the rim as a roller to the basket.
The former second-round draft pick came up clutch late, as well. His five points in overtime were decisive as he knocked down a 25-foot triple with 3:26 left in the extra period to pull the Nets ahead by eight and then dropped in an eight-foot floater with 1:31 left to extend Brooklyn’s lead back to eight.
In a season-high 17 minutes, Claxton had himself a breakout game. His 17 points on 7-9 shooting were a career-high as he took on a larger role in Jeff Green’s absence. Along with his dynamism as a lob threat and roller offensively, his defense continues to be a massive strength for Brooklyn off the bench.
Specifically, his ability to switch ball screens is a huge help to the Nets’ defense. Claxton is more than capable of switching on to players like Luka Doncic or Demar Derozan and playing them straight up. His length and fairly quick lateral movement make up for his slightly slower foot speed as he’s a savvy defender against smaller players looking to create space by exploiting the switch.
He also registered three blocks on the night which ties his previous career-high from November of 2019. The potential is evident for Claxton as the numbers he’s putting up in limited minutes with limited usage are incredibly impressive and suggest that he has a bright future with the Nets.
The Nets are clicking
Not to state the obvious, but it appears that Brooklyn has turned the corner. Despite seeing their eight-game win streak come to an end on Saturday against Dallas, the Nets picked up another good win against a solid San Antonio team on the road.
Role players like Claxton, Brown, and Joe Harris have been impressive while Irving and Harden run the show in Durant’s absence. Winning nine of ten games is no small feat in the NBA and to do so without, arguably, the team’s best player is indicative of just how high this team’s potential is. If Brooklyn can maintain this type of play and rhythm once Durant returns, the rest of the league better watch out.