Ben Simmons is starting to play like the two-way star the Nets envisioned when they traded for him. Kyrie Irving returned from suspension and made his minutes. Kevin Durant Kevin Durant. Coach Steve Nash is gone, a scapegoat.
The Nets, healthier and theoretically getting stronger, are about to embark on a long homestand where no loss can be blamed on an absent standout or jet lag or Los Angeles nightlife or Indiana officials.
If the Nets are going to realize their potential and turn their talent into wins, it may not be much longer than seven games over 13 days against beaten opponents at Barclays Center, starting Sunday against a banded-up trail. Blazer.
I think it's essential to our season,” Irving said after Friday's loss at Indiana dropped them to 9-11. "Just to be able to establish some great practices at home like we've been doing, but now we'll be tested in a seven-game home stretch.
I'm just looking forward to being in front of our fans. But more importantly, being in front of our home environment and being able to thrive there."
At times the Nets have prospered, but in spurts rather than long stretches. Durant, Simmons and Irving looked like a title-contending Big 3 through three quarters against the Pacers, before the Nets were exposed and their defense became a hole and they were outscored by 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Finding compatibility has been problematic, and the built-in excuses are valid. Their trio of stars played half of their games together. Simmons lacked confidence and was not healthy early in the campaign. By the time he turned the corner, Irving was suspended.
Head coach Jack Vaughn has made rotation changes both out of necessity and out of experimentation that can defend and rebound the Nets' teams, which have been weak spots on a team that hasn't gelled together.
Their hope is to spend some time in Brooklyn bonding, practicing and working together as they gain strength to rescue a squad that went from 1-1 to .500.
This homestretch is interesting for us to take care of our business. You hopefully get to the point where you can get guys back and you can solidify the rotation,” Vaughan said Friday. “That's what we're looking for.
We got some of that by having Ben play more minutes now. This piece looks like it's pretty much resolved.