What happens when the league’s 30th and 27th worst defense play? You expect a lot of points. But when those same teams are also the 1st and 3rd offense in the league? Chaos and a lot of entertainment. Words can’t describe how wild the ending of Nets – Wizards was. If you didn’t get the chance already, see for yourself.
Without James Harden on the floor (day-to-day with a thigh), the Nets were up as many as 18 in the game and had a 9 point lead in the 4th quarter. With the Nets, no lead is safe – their own or the opponents. They can drop points on anyone, and it seems like anyone can drop points on them. Still, their 4th quarter performance was historic. Not in a good way.
It’s not just the fact the Nets traded away their defensive anchor in Jarret Allen. Irving, Harden, and Harris are all expected to play the majority of minutes on the perimeter and are not really known for their defensive acumen. Still, Kyrie knows they can and have to do better and accepted responsibility for last night’s performance.
“I don’t know if we’re going to get many wins if we allow 48 points in any quarter (…) I couldn’t guard a stick today.”Kyrie Irving, postgame conference
The Nets’ defense isn’t just bad, it’s historically bad. After the Nets were up 31-13 in the first quarter with 2 minutes and 56 seconds left, the Wizards score 143 points in 36 minutes. I remind you, this was without James Harden, whose departure from Houston didn’t help his defensive reputation.
Both the Nets and the Rockets are 6-3 post James Harden trade. The stark contrast is, the Rockets have been the best defense in the league since, the Nets have been the worst. The Nets have an abundance of firepower, and that may work in the regular season against mediocre teams.
But in the playoffs, against the best teams in the league? The “defense wins championships” phrase may be slowly becoming obsolete, but one thing is for sure. One of the worst defenses in NBA history stands no chance in May and July. The Nets are bound to make a trade for a defensive big, but even in that scenario, they all have to commit to playing better defense.