CLEVELAND — For the second straight season, NBA schedule makers had the Nets play consecutive games against finalists Golden State and Cleveland. But unlike last season, when it was on back-to-back nights, the Nets had two days in between to prepare to face the Cavaliers Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
After falling behind the Warriors by 28 points and then cutting it to a four-point deficit in the final minutes of a 118-111 loss, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson went to work on his team’s defense. “I know Golden State is a great team, but I do think we kind of beat ourselves,” Atkinson said. “That was the focus [Tuesday] in film and in practice. It starts with transition defense. We’re not doing a good job matching up.
“We need more awareness off the ball and then more physicality. I’m tired of seeing guys push us off. The level of defensive competitiveness wasn’t where it should be. That’s on me to get them more locked in on a consistent basis.”
Allen getting play
Rookie center Jarrett Allen was productive in a 12-minute stint against the Warriors, and Atkinson plans to ramp him up as he comes back from a left foot strain. “Jarrett is progressing nicely,” Atkinson said. “Don’t expect him to play 40 minutes. There’s a level — 15, tops 20. I think he’s just coming back from an injury, and we have to be smart about it.”
Dinwiddie stepping up
In four previous starts without D’Angelo Russell in the lineup, point guard Spencer Dinwiddie averaged 20.0 points, 8.3 assists and shot 40.6 percent from three-point range. He ranks second in NBA assist-to-turnover ratio (5.38) behind the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala (5.50). “Our players have confidence in him and see that Spencer is stepping his game up,” Atkinson said . . . In their previous three games, the Nets shot 47 of 120 from three-point range (39.2) and made 14-plus threes in three straight games for the first time in franchise history.