Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash does not believe his team is currently at the same elite level as the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
"I just don't think we're in that category yet," Nash told reporters after a 117-99 loss to the Warriors on Tuesday. "We got a lot of work to do. ... I think the guys have been great as far as buying into what we want to do defensively. No one would have picked us as a top-10 defense to start the year."
Before Tuesday's game, Durant spoke about how well the Warriors, who are now 12-2, have played this season, acknowledging that it was going to be a tough matchup.
"It's just another game," Durant told reporters. "It's 15 games into the season. Obviously they're the best team in the league and they're playing at an elite level, but it's a regular-season game. We obviously want to go out there and win in front of our home crowd, but we not going to put too much pressure on ourselves and call this a Finals match."
Brooklyn has particularly had difficulty against the NBA's top teams this season, losing to the Warriors, Heat, Bulls and Bucks. Despite those losses, though, the Nets are still near the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a 10-5 record.
As for the team defense Nash talked about, the Nets entered Tuesday's game with a 103.4 defensive rating, which ranked eighth in the league, per NBA.com. The team also ranked third with 37.6 rebounds per game.
The Nets entered the 2021-22 season as NBA title favorites, but a lot has changed since then.
One of the big issues for Brooklyn is the absence of star point guard Kyrie Irving, who isn't able to practice or play with the Nets until he complies with New York's COVID-19 vaccination rules.
Irving's absence has caused James Harden to shift to point guard from shooting guard, a position Joe Harris is now playing. However, Harris missed Tuesday's loss to the Warriors because of an ankle sprain, so Patty Mills started in his place.
With the possibility that Irving misses the entire season, Nash and the Nets need to figure things out quickly or risk losing ground in the competitive Eastern Conference.