The Nets are seeking a solution to their rebounding troubles

The Nets are seeking a solution to their rebounding troubles

THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS — Is the Nets’ biggest issue height, effort, or strategy?

Coach Jacque Vaughn says it is mostly a combination of effort and strategy.

Prior to Friday’s 128-117 defeat to the Pacers, the Nets were the worst rebounding team in the NBA by an average of five boards per game. They possess the necessary length to change shots (their 7.5 blocks per game were the best in the league), but they have not pursued loose balls following misses.

What can be corrected?

“We keep returning to it. Before the game, Vaughn, who has previously criticized the team’s effort, stated, “We even put three clips on the video today [during practice] to demonstrate the multiple layers that go into it.”

According to Vaughn, the ability of the Nets’ big men to switch on screens — nimble Nic Claxton and Ben Simmons are able to defend guards — frequently causes them to be shifted away from the basket.

Before the Nets were outrebounded 41-38, Vaughn stated, “This is part of it.” “Then you have the little bit. Instead of the pleasant and enjoyable thought, “I’m going to leak out and go play offense,” [you think], “I have to go back and help.”

During the Nets’ 128-117 loss to the Pacers, Bennedict Mathurin shoots over Kyrie Irving.
NBAE Images via Getty

It has layers.

Much of the fault for the Nets’ inconsistent and lackluster start to the season lies with their defense. Prior to Friday, the Nets limited opponents to just 44 percent field goal shooting, which was the best in the NBA. The greater difficulty has been controlling the ball, especially after failed shots by opponents.

Wednesday’s victory in Toronto was never in doubt because the Nets allowed the Raptors to collect 23 offensive rebounds, which led to 34 second-chance points. (The Nets scored eight points on second chances.) Tuesday’s Nets loss in Philadelphia was mostly due to the 76ers’ 14-rebound advantage, including 20 offensive boards.

The Nets had the lowest percentage of defensive rebounds in the NBA before to Friday, grabbing them 72.3% of the time.

There have been instances when the Nets have displayed sloppy play, but it is plausible that the fault resides with the individuals. Despite their length, Nets are frequently overpowered, particularly beneath the basket. Claxton, who is rated at 6 feet 11 inches and 226 pounds, is susceptible to being outmuscled by more conventional, stronger centers. Simmons, the other frequently-used center for the Nets, is an extremely tall point guard.

Claxton and Simmons have recently (including Friday) shared the court to open games, giving them a pair of lean towers at the risk of offensive stagnation.

Vaughn expects that a fresh emphasis on hustle, boxing out, and not allowing guards to escape on fast-breaks would remedy the problem.

If not, the situation may fall within the purview of general manager Sean Marks.

After sitting out Wednesday in Toronto on the second night of a back-to-back, Seth Curry played on Thursday. Curry, who underwent ankle surgery over the summer, has not yet played consecutive games this season. In 28 minutes, he scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Vaughn stated, “We’re just looking at the big picture – it’s still November.” “The objective, which I am confident he will achieve, is to play consecutive games.”

Yuta Watanabe missed all three games of the road trip due to a hamstring issue. Watanabe will not be available for Sunday’s home game against the Trail Blazers, according to Vaughn, who claimed the club is adopting a “cautious approach.”

“We’ll reevaluate him after we get him home,” Vaughn added. “But I’m not really concerned that this will endure for a long time.”

T.J. Warren (foot surgery), who has not played since December 2021, has advanced to “mixed five-on-five drills with coaches and players,” according to Vaughn. “There have been no setbacks, and hopefully this trend will continue.”


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