Coming off their NBA-worst 20-62 record last season, the new-look Nets are 3-0 in the preseason and have won those games by an average of 20.1 points while ranking second in the NBA in offensive and defensive ratings. The caveat, of course, is that two of those wins came over the rebuilding Knicks, who appear headed for the sort of season the Nets endured last year.
But after the Nets blew out the Knicks by 34 points on Sunday night at Barclays Center, point guard Jeremy Lin said the 3-0 record isn’t nearly as important as how the Nets got there. “I feel like we’re playing the right way,” Lin said. “Today, we had a great defensive game. We had a ton of assists  and we moved the ball. If we could draw it up, that’s how it would be — gritty defense leading to unselfish offense.”
Allen Crabbe made his Nets debut and impressed with 14 points in 11 minutes, suggesting he will be the three-point threat coach Kenny Atkinson and general manager Sean Marks envisioned when they traded for him and told him to expect a larger role than he played in Portland.
Reflecting on Crabbe’s performance, Lin said, “If he could do that every game, ‘Please, Allen, do that every game.’ That was amazing. He didn’t have any games to work into it. He just came out and started ripping shots. That was impressive, man.”
Lin was equally impressed with Crabbe’s defense, noting that his deflections often led to transition baskets. While Crabbe’s play was the highlight, Lin said several other players made key contributions on defense that led to the blowout.
“We have guys with length, with speed, and because we have depth, we’re seeing them play at a super-high intensity,” Lin said. “It’s a shorter clip but a ton of intensity. I think that’s helping us turn them over, and that’s helping our overall team.”
The Nets’ defensive intensity is reflected in the numbers. They are holding opponents to 37.9 percent shooting from the field, including 26.5 percent from three-point range, while outrebounding them 54.0-43.3 per game. On offense, the Nets are shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 42.1 from three-point range.
The Nets have one preseason game left against the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum, and they are trying to temper their enthusiasm until the real thing begins Oct. 18 at Indiana. But hope for a turnaround is palpable.
“In my mind, it’s like, ‘OK, wow. We have a chance to be a great team,’ ” Lin said. “But the season is another level . . . I’m just wary to draw too much from preseason. We’re all 0-0. But I definitely see us heading in the right direction, and that’s extremely encouraging to me.”