Nets center Nic Claxton Credit: Bill Moore photo

No one is expecting the Brooklyn Nets to tie or break the Golden State Warriors’ 2016 regular season win-loss record of 73-9. But they were projected to come out of the gate much better than they were heading into last night’s game versus the Milwaukee Bucks on the road. 

They were 2-1 and took blowout losses in their season and home opener on Oct. 19 to the New Orleans Pelicans, falling 130-108, and were run out of Memphis 134-124 by the Grizzlies on Monday. In between the Nets had a close 109-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last Friday. 

One problem the Nets don’t have is getting production from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant dropped 32 points against the Pelicans, 27 versus Raptors and 37 on the Grizzlies. Irving scored a moderate 15 points in Game 1, followed up by 30 against the Raptors and equaled Durant’s 37 in Memphis, scoring 19 in the fourth quarter.

Ben Simmons, the newcomer to Brooklyn’s lineup, has been waiting for his breakout game. Simmons only had four points, five rebounds and five assists in his Nets’ debut against the Pelicans. He came back in Game 2 and contributed six points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. In Memphis, Simmons’ stat line was six points, three rebounds and eight assists.

Simmons’ specialty is defense, and he brought a resume to the Nets that includes twice being named NBA All Defense First Team. Defense also has been the Nets’ main flaw early this season. In their first three games they allowed an average of 124.3 points per game. 

A Net who’s had some breakout games is forward Nic Claxton. Sporting a new look as he cut off his signature long locks this past summer, the 23-year-old Claxton, drafted by Brooklyn in the second round (No. 31 overall) in 2019 out of the University of Georgia, has been a consistent contributor, dropping 13 points with 10 rebounds on opening night. The 6-foot-11 Claxton added 19 points and 11 points in the Nets’ win over the Raptors and had 16 points and seven rebounds facing the Grizzlies. 

“You know, we need other guys to step up. Can’t have Kyrie [Irving] and KD [Kevin Durant] trying to do everything,” said Claxton after the Nets’ win over the Raptors. The Nets re-signed Claxton in late June to a two-year, $20 million dollar contract. 

“Coach trusts him,” said Durant, referring to Nets head coach Steve Nash. “His teammates trust him, so he can go out there and do his thing.”

The Nets will play their next four games at home hosting the Dallas Mavericks tonight, two straight versus the Indiana Pacers Saturday and Monday, and Tuesday matching up with the Chicago Bulls.

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