Steve Nash: Nets' Defense Is 'A Work in Progress,' Will Make or Break Season

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJanuary 22, 2021

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash points during the third quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in New York. (Brad Penner/Pool Photo via AP)
Brad Penner/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets first-year head coach Steve Nash told reporters Friday that defense will be "what makes or breaks" his team's 2020-21 season.

"It is going to be a work in progress the entire season, and it has to be our No. 1 priority," Nash said, per ESPN's Malika Andrews.

The Nets entered Friday allowing the sixth-most points in the NBA at 115.8 per game. Their 111.1 defensive rating ranks 21st overall, per Basketball Reference.

Brooklyn allowed 147 points in a double-overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. Point guard Collin Sexton finished with 42 points on 16-of-29 shooting.

Offensive firepower won't be an issue for the Nets, as they have three elite scorers in James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, their defense could be problematic, especially when facing elite players such as Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.

Luckily, the Nets have plenty of time to work on their defense before the playoffs roll around. They still have 56 regular-season contests remaining, and the Harden-Irving-Durant trio has played just one game together.

They'll look to get back on track when they visit the Cavs again on Friday evening. Brooklyn will enter the game with a 9-7 record, which is fifth in the East. However, the bunched-up East is paced by Philadelphia, which is only 1.5 games ahead of Brooklyn at 10-5.