The Nets have dropped seven straight overall and on their home floor, and now comes the hard part.
One of the best in the West, Oklahoma City, visits Barclays Center Wednesday night. The best in the East, Toronto, visits Friday night. Then the Nets face the Knicks at the Garden Saturday night, lugging along their 33-game road losing streak on the back side of back-to-backs.
“It’s a very challenging schedule, obviously,” Joe Harris said after practice Tuesday at HSS Training Center.
Brooklyn is 2-9 without Caris LeVert and 8-17 overall. LeVert isn’t walking back on the court any time soon to try to help the cause after dislocating his right foot on November 12. But perhaps the return of Harris and more doses of Rodions Kurucs can help going forward. The Nets can only hope.
Harris is probable against the Thunder (15-7) after missing the previous three games with left adductor tightness. The 6-6 starting small forward — the NBA’s leader in field-goal percentage on drives to the rim last season and a career 40.6 percent three-point shooter — is capable of providing an assist at both ends.
“He’s a much-improved defensive player — physical defensive presence,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I know everybody’s going to say his shooting [helps the most]. I’m saying his downhill ability . . . With Joe, we had another guy that was really attacking the basket. Joe’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy.”
The Nets have been off their rhythm offensively, scoring under 100 points in three of the last four losses.
“I just think that we didn’t do quite as good of a job of moving the ball,” said Harris, who’s averaging 12.9 points. “We got into a lot of isolation scenarios. It’s not the way that we can play in order to win.”
Kurucs played the final 13:58 in Monday night’s 99-97 loss to Cleveland at Barclays, scoring 12 and giving Brooklyn an energy infusion. Those were unscheduled minutes for the 6-9 rookie forward. Atkinson said he’s “leaning” toward giving him planned minutes against the Thunder.
“I’m slashing, cutting to the basket, rebounding, offensive rebounds,” Kurucs said when asked what he brings offensively. “I can shoot a three. . . . I can [play] an all-round game, a little bit of everything.”
Despite the losing streak, this latest practice was one of the Nets’ “most spirited,” according to Atkinson.
“I think we’re all obviously [down] after the game, but this is the ultimate kind of test for a team and our character — coaches, everybody,” Atkinson said. “It’s times like these you need a strong culture. . . . Listen, we had a pretty good start to the season with some really good wins. This is the tough time, and we’re pushing to turn it around.”