The Nets have improved. Since the departure of Steve Nash and the confirmation of a Jacque Vaughn without an interim label, they have more team shape reallymake stuff in defense and try to create an identity in attack. They have drawn the mega crisisWe’ll see if it’s the last or penultimate, opened by Kyrie Irving. Y they’re getting a very positive version of Ben Simmons back. All of that is good news, great news when you think about the hole the team was in just a few weeks ago. But the fact is that, despite everything, it continues to be a Yes but no. A some nights yes, others no. We will see if it is part of the process, a state of transit in a growth that, I insist, must be recognized; Or if this is what it is. Because, with fits of optimism and nights to put your head in the ground, the Nets are 5-5 in their last ten games. And 9-11 in the season after losing in Indiana, against the Pacers (128-117).
The Pacers should be tanking. They should be talking about Victor Wembanyama’s wingspan and transition feints. Of futurealways an intoxicating elixir because you can mold it as you like, something that the stubborn and often ungrateful present does not allow. The Pacers should be one of the worst teams in the NBA, or so it seemed their plan, the design of their reboot. But, as if the draft did not exist, they are winning (8-2 in ten, if we take the same measure as with the Nets) and They are Eastern quarters: 11-7. And one of the most attractive teams in the NBA. When Rick Carlisle does click with their players, good things happen. When a team gathers together and concentrates on play each night, the victories fall of their own weight and the ecosystem flourishes… and more victories come, and the ecosystem flourishes more… and the winning cycle advances feeding on its own energy.
Tyrese Haliburton (22 years old) is a Japanese calculator who came to Indiana in the transfer of Domantas Sabonis. He averages almost 20 points and 11 assists per night, makes very few mistakes and contagious professionalism, IQto everything that surrounds it. Another transfer, that of Malcolm Brogdon, reconfigured the outside rotation with more control (everything) for him, more shots for Buddy Hield and minutes for ehe exceptional rookie Bennedict Mathurin, the 6th in the last draft who is still 20 years old and who leaves an unmistakable aroma of a star in his wake. With Myles Turner in one of the primes of his career and TJ McConnell leading a long-suffering group of hard-working secondaries, it’s impossible not to take these Pacers seriously, who are far further along in their rebuild than one might have expected. . With the Haliburton-Mathurin couple they have struck gold. A axisthe stone on which to build a winning team.
The main four went from 20 points against the Nets: 21 with 6 rebounds, 15 assists and 4 steals Haliburton, 26 with 5 Hield triples; 28 with 8 rebounds Turner and 20 a Mathurin who scored 16 points in a last quarter to which he arrived with a 2/11 in shots. And that against Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. What has been said: the gift of the elect. The Pacers found their rhythm in that last quarter that they won 40-23 and in which a 20-4 start turned an 88-94 into a 108-98. The Nets got nervous, trusted everything to Kevin Durant’s electricity and made many mistakes: turnovers, too many fouls (38-10 in free throws taken), botched the game on the wire, from a technique to Durant to a flagrant one to Claxton for shoving Haliburton. When K.D. wanted to play the hero (20 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter), the Pacers had opened up enough of a gap.
Kyrie scored 20 points, only 4 after the break. Ben Simmons added another 20 without failure (8/8) in field goals, and has already been a few games in a completely improved version, more and more cheerful in the head and fresher in the legs. Surely, both things are feeding each other. But the Nets are still lacking automatisms, especially when the going gets hot and their stars’ instinct is to win the war on their own. And above all, they lack aggressive and fast defenders (feet and hands) for the outside line, where Simmons and Royce O’Neale are less effective. They form with Durant and Claxton a wall around the area, but the lack of percussion on the ball opens avenues that the rivals take advantage of to mess everything else up and force a ton of fouls. The Nets have improved, but they are not ready to receive a medical discharge either. Not yet. The Pacers are one of the teams of the season, for now. And with Haliburton and Mathurin, they can also be one of the next ones, for many years. Good news in Indiana, the state where basketball is more than a sport.