As the Nets prepare for Kyrie Irving‘s return to action, the team seems to be mulling the idea of leaning more heavily on small-ball lineups, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. While it’s possible not all of Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Caris LeVert will be in Brooklyn’s starting five, there’s a chance that all three guards could play together at the end of games.
“The big question, the big thing is who’s going to finish; that’s the one, how do you finish?” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We have opportunities to play small, really small, too. That’s within our possibilities. We’ll just figure it out. It’s hard to know until you have it in your hands what exactly you’re going to do.”
As Lewis notes, a lineup that features the Nets’ top three guards alongside Joe Harris at the four and Jarrett Allen at the five has only played 18 minutes together this year, but it has been one of the club’s most effective five-man units, outscoring opponents by 20.5 minutes per 100 possessions. Harris told Lewis that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Brooklyn opts for smaller lineups more often the rest of the way.
“I would’ve never thought in my life I’d be playing power forward in the NBA, but that’s the direction the NBA is going,” Harris said. “And as the year wears on, teams are doing whatever it takes to win games. Sometimes that’s going with a smaller lineup.”
Here’s more on the Nets:
- Alex Schiffer of The Athletic takes a look at how Travon Bryant, who had a decade-long career as a player in international leagues, has become a key member of Atkinson’s coaching staff. Bryant, who works with Brooklyn’s frontcourt players, has had an impact on rookie big man Nicolas Claxton this season. “I enjoy working with him every single day,” Claxton said. “I have to give some credit to him. He’s extremely knowledgeable of the game, and I think he’s going to be a good coach in this league for a while.”
- Back in November, the Nets parted ways with CEO David Levy after just two months. Speaking recently to Ira Boudway of Bloomberg (hat tip to Brian Lewis of The New York Post), Nets owner Joseph Tsai explained that he and Levy had different expectations for what that job would entail. “He was already looking ahead at how to grow the J Tsai sports portfolio, but we also needed someone to do the nuts and bolts,” Tsai said. “Maybe he thought that he wanted to do something that’s bigger and he could just bring in other people to do it, and I’m of a view that before you outsource something you should do it yourself.”
- After getting a week off for the All-Star break, the Nets will make a concerted effort to avoid a repeat of their post-Christmas-break struggles, Lewis writes in a separate story for The New York Post. Following a four-day Christmas break, Brooklyn lost seven consecutive games and 12 of 14. A similar post-All-Star run could jeopardize the club’s hold on a playoff spot.