It was an ugly game between two ugly teams as the Milwaukee Bucks hosted the Brooklyn Nets. Both teams are well below .500 with the Bucks at 4-15 after an overtime win Friday night over the Washington Wizards and the Nets at 5-14. Funny enough, both teams are still in the thick of the playoff race as the NBA Eastern Conference is in a downward spiral to rock bottom.
The Nets suffered their second 30-point loss of the season Thursday at the hands of the New York Knicks. The Minnesota Timberwolves also downed Brooklyn by 30. They didn’t let the embarrassing loss keep them down though, as they bounced back against the Bucks behind Brook Lopez’s 18th career 30-point game. The big man had 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists in a big victory for the Nets.
Brooklyn also received some more good news with point guard Deron Williams prepared to return from an ankle injury Tuesday night. The team could really use the boost as they are eight games below .500, but are still very much in the playoff race.
The biggest issues the Nets face is finding an identity. They have all these different pieces like Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Lopez and Williams. All these players each require the ball in their hands in order to make plays. Whether it is scoring or assisting, each individual needs the ball to be effective. That has proven to be the biggest downfall for Brooklyn, well that and injuries.
Their identity should include playing around Lopez. He has begun to prove he is a powerful force in the paint, but he needs the touches to be that force. If they can consistently get him the ball in the post, then the floor will open up for the shooters like Pierce and the drivers like Johnson.
Luckily the East is such a car wreckage that the Nets have time to figure it out and make a push for the playoffs. If they figure it out soon, they could even land a fifth seed or higher.