What was supposed to be a coming-out party for the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night instead turned out to be a season-opening heartbreaker at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it wasn’t due to Deron Williams only playing 21 minutes, head coach Jason Kidd’s watching from afar or the double-digit hole they dug themselves into.
If there was one thing that cost the Nets the joy of winning their long-awaited debut, it was simply rebounding.
Despite all the complementary talent Brooklyn added this offseason which easily outweighed Cleveland’s young crew on paper, the game was ultimately decided on rebounding. The Cavaliers out-totaled the Nets 48-37 on the night, but more importantly bested them on the offensive glass, tearing down 16 offensive boards to the Nets’ nine.
The Cavaliers finally have high hopes for returning to the playoffs this season for the first time since the pre-LeBron James Decision days of 2010, but it’s still inexcusable for a Nets team with the combined size of Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche to get out-rebounded by them.
No matter how much this sport evolves, it would be ignorant to ever think that the importance of defensive rebounding will ever become as distant as a star in outer space. It’s still one of basketball’s most fundamental elements and always will be. Second-shot opportunities kill throughout the course of a game, whether they’re converted or not. Momentum and energy dissolve much quicker when the opponent is pulling down offensive rebounds left and right. Possessions are carelessly given away.
It now becomes evident that the Nets can’t just rely on their size to win the rebounding battle this season. They’ll need to fight just as hard for missed shots as the other team does. Focus on the most complex of analytics has gained so much notoriety in pro sports nowadays, but sometimes, a disappointing loss in an NBA game is just as simple getting outworked on the glass — even for these glamorous Brooklyn Nets.