Nets not looking any different
NEW YORK — The Brooklyn Nets’ transformation from the shadows to the spotlight happened in just one night.
Building a team that can live up to their new expectations is going to take much longer.
Even with Kyrie Irving’s terrific start, the Nets remain just what they were early last season: good enough to be in just about every game, but not yet good enough to win many of them.
The Nets are just 2-4 and later this week begin a five-game road trip that includes difficult stops at Portland, Utah and Denver.
“We have three new starters and we’re still working through getting on the same page. You say well, that’s your job, to get it done. And we’re working towards that. We’re not there yet,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said.
Though the Nets landed commitments from Irving, Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan on the opening night of free agency, they also lost a lot from a team that went 42-40 and reached the playoffs. All-Star D’Angelo Russell is gone along with what Atkinson counts as seven other rotation players from that team.
There’s plenty that remains, such as 3-point champion Joe Harris and a healthy Caris LeVert, but it’s clear they and other Nets are still getting used to playing with Irving. He was injured for almost all the preseason, so the Nets lost the ability to have that adjustment happen before the games started to count.
“You don’t know how long it takes. You hope whatever it takes, you get over it,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Kemba Walker has scored 32, 32 and 33 points over the last three games, helping Boston to four straight wins after a poor start to his Celtics career.
The All-Star guard’s scoring isn’t all that has impressed his new coach.
“I said this yesterday. He takes hits, he makes foul shots, he’s available every day, and he got two or three of the biggest rebounds of the night for us,” Brad Stevens said after a 104-102 win over New York on Friday. “Running in transition he jumped up over everybody one time. So I’d say he’s a tough guy. I’m glad he’s here.”
Walker heads back to Charlotte on Thursday, one of a few high-profile return games this month. The list includes Kristaps Porzingis in New York on Nov. 14, Mike Conley in Memphis on Nov. 15, Kyrie Irving in Boston on Nov. 27, and Anthony Davis in New Orleans the same night.