The Nets lost their second point guard just four games into the new season. D’Angelo Russell suffered a sprained right knee Tuesday night in a loss at Orlando and was ruled out of Wednesday night’s game against the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers at Barclays Center.
Unlike Jeremy Lin, who suffered a season-ending ruptured patella tendon in the opener at Indiana, Russell’s injury is deemed “nothing serious” by Nets coach Kenny Atkinson.
“We just want to be cautious,” Atkinson said. “He’s a 21-year-old player. Tweaked it a little, just day by day. We’ll look at it again [Thursday] . . . Nothing long term. Day to day. I think we’re a cautious group. We want to make sure we get him back 100 percent.”
Backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie started. Shooting guard Caris LeVert started but also played point with the second unit. Sean Kilpatrick, who did not play in the first four games, also was utilized in backcourt.
“Caris, obviously, is pretty good with the ball in his hands,” Atkinson said. “I think we can handle it because of the way we play with different guys bringing it up.”
Nets’ offense tops, defense poor
The Nets entered the Cleveland game with the highest-scoring offense in the NBA at 123.5 points per game, but they ranked 29th in points allowed (122.5) ahead of only Phoenix (125.3). The Nets also ranked fourth in steals and fifth in rebounding, two key defensive stats, but turnovers, excessive fouls and the high shooting percentage they have allowed are contributing to poor defensive numbers.
“The offense has been really good,” Atkinson said. “I’d say our priority from Day 1 here was to get the defense straight. I will say it’s a new group, and I think you need to have five guys connected. I think we’re not all connected right now defensively. We have the potential to be a good defensive team. So, figuring out the right lineups and getting everybody on the right page takes time.”