Atlantic Notes: Ollie, Thomas, Beverley, Lowry, Raptors

Kevin Ollie will offer some strategic changes when he makes his debut as head coach of the Nets tonight in Toronto, but he’s focused mainly on bringing a new attitude to the team, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Ollie, who came to Brooklyn as an assistant at the start of the season, was promoted to the job on an interim basis after Jacque Vaughn was fired Monday.

“The biggest thing is playing for each other and making the right plays,” Ollie said. “Not being selfish, getting the ball to the guys that we need to get the ball to in their right spots where they can be very successful. Just playing the right way, and we need to do that more consistently. So that’s not a scheme change or anything, that’s just playing better basketball, doing simple better.”

Ollie is expected to emphasize better spacing on offense, Lewis adds. That has been a problem, especially in the limited time that Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton have been on the court together. Lewis notes that Brooklyn is minus-34 and is shooting just 42.6% as a team in the duo’s 69 total minutes this season.

“You have to be able to space, you have to be able to cut, you have to be able to play together. We have to get out and rebound and get stops so they can play with pace and play in transition offense,” Ollie said. “So all those things count. But when it gets bogged down in a half-court situation, we haven’t had that situation where one’s up, one’s down and how they play off each other is crucial. So that’s why it’s so good for practice time.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With Ollie in charge of the Nets, Cam Thomas should get a fresh chance to prove that he’s worthy of a starting role, Lewis states in a separate story. The explosive guard is averaging 21.2 PPG, but Vaughn often limited his playing time due to concerns about defense and energy. Thomas thought the report of a coaching change was a prank when he read about it on the internet, and he didn’t believe the story until general manager Sean Marks confirmed it. “We didn’t get enough wins. … And [we were] dropping some games, not playing as hard,” Thomas said. “It’s on both parties, coaches, players, front office, everybody. Got to look at yourself in the mirror; so that’s just what we got to do.”
  • Patrick Beverley has been taking shots at his former team on his podcast since being traded to Milwaukee, but the Sixers are choosing to ignore them, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Coach Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry, who’s taking over Beverley’s role in Philadelphia, have been among the targets. “I’m not a podcast watcher, but he’s a friend of mine and that’s his competitive nature,” Lowry said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against him, as always.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic looks at late-season storylines to watch for the Raptors, including whether tanking will be an option, the roles for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, and which players will show that they should be re-signed this summer.
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