Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn coaches against the Cavaliers during...

Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn coaches against the Cavaliers during the third quarter at Barclays Center on Tuesday. Credit: Brad Penner

The result was not ideal.

The process, however, was.

And as long as the process is ideal, Jacque Vaughn can live with the result.

That, in essence, summarized Vaughn’s philosophy about both the Nets’ 115-109 loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, and the final 10 games of the regular season.

“There [were] some things we did well,” Vaughn said prior to the Nets’ game Thursday night at Barclays Center against the Cavaliers. “Whether that was the offensive rebounding piece, hopefully we can replicate that. Turning them over was a positive for us, so hopefully we can replicate that. I think at the end of the day our shot quality was good. Hopefully more go in for us tonight; that would help. But those are the three [aspects] that kind of spoke most as I rewatched the game.”

In the first game of the miniseries, the Nets outrebounded the Cavaliers 49-34, including a 19-8 margin on the offensive glass. Which would be impressive enough. But when factoring Cleveland has the duo of 6’9 Jarrett Allen and 6’11 Evan Mobley making up two-thirds of its front court, the Nets did yeoman’s work.

Unfortunately, their three-point shooting negated the Nets’ success on the glass. The Nets made only  27.3% of their threes (9-for-33) in the loss. Oddly, they finished the game having made 44.6% of their total shots (41-for-92).

Vaughn, though, stressed that he was fine with the players who took the threes. Cam Johnson and Joe Harris each made 2-of-4. Mikal Bridges missed all eight of his attempts. Spencer Dinwiddie misfired on 4-of-5 attempts. Royce O’Neale finished 2-for-7 from behind the arc.    

Combined, the quintet finished 7-for-28.

Not ideal. But Vaughn hoped his shooters would get untracked against Allen and Mobley.

“They have two dudes,” Vaughn said. “One dude’s in the coverage and one dude that is protecting the rim. That’s where the threes come in. You [have] to make them pay.”

One area in which the Nets did make Cleveland pay was by turning  14 turnovers which they turned into 25 points.  

“When we do turn teams over,” Vaughn said, “those transition buckets sometimes are layups. Easy attacks. That’s the first piece of it. The second piece is the multiple ball handlers. If we can get multiple guys handling the basketball, I think that hurts the defense because now they’re scrambling back trying to get matched up; the matchup might not [be in their favor]. Tonight is a prime example. They have two bigs. Is one going to be matched up with Mikal [or Johnson] or Spencer in transition? Let’s take advantage of that. We haven’t done that and a big part of that is we haven’t gotten the stops on demand when we needed to. But yes, we want to play with pace, get some of those early threes from the right people. And hopefully they go in.”  

So, yes, there were building blocks heading into the rematch and, potentially, the playoffs. But one area that remains an open question is Ben Simmons.

According to Vaughn, Simmons has not practiced with teammates. Simmons has been out since Feb. 15 with knee soreness and back inflammation.

“Ben is in the same position he was the last time I talked to [reporters],” Vaughn said. “Nothing further to comment on. I don’t think I can give you anything else because there’s been nothing to add, really.”

And Vaughn did not seem especially interested in discussing how difficult it would be to work Simmons back into the rotation for the playoffs.

“I don’t even think that far ahead,” Vaughn said. “ I keep my life that way. I’m concerned about today’s game. And if those questions present themselves, I’ll be more than willing to see how [he] fits with the group at that time. But [I] don’t even want to look that far ahead.”

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