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‘Average’ Brooklyn still figuring out ‘what kind of team we want to be’

Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 09: Kyrie Irving #11 and James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets while playing the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on February 09, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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In the 13 games since the James Harden trade, the Brooklyn Nets have a net rating of -0.2. Basically that of a .500 team. Average. They are 7-6 in those games and currently have a three-game losing streak.

Kyrie Irving: “I don’t think that we go out every single day of our lives and sacrifice the time in order to be average at anything. I know you don’t wake up, I know no one here on this call wakes up to be average at anything they do, and we look very average.”

The built-in excuse for Brooklyn’s loss to struggling Detroit Tuesday night is there: Kevin Durant was out. However, if you watched the game, it felt worse than that — Detroit flat-out out-worked the Nets. A Nets team that had more talent and still had Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the court. The Pistons earned this win. Jerami Grant scored 32 points, Delon Wright added 22, and Mason Plumlee finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists, outplaying DeAndre Jordan.

Coach Steve Nash was more direct about the Nets needing to play with pride, passion, and grit on the defensive end.

Brooklyn was always going to need some time to figure things out, and the big three have only been on the court together for six games (and had some impressive wins in those games). This is still a team with the talent and potential to come out of the East. It took time for Miami’s big three to figure it out. There were rough patches when Durant went to Golden State.

With the Nets, the issue is clear — they have to get some stops. The league-worst defense since the trade is a legitimate problem. The inconsistent effort is as well. This is too deep a conference with too many good teams to just think they can flip the switch come the playoffs.

Brooklyn may be the best team in the East, but at some point they need to start playing like it.