Interim Nets coach Kevin Ollie speaks after practice on Tuesday in...

Interim Nets coach Kevin Ollie speaks after practice on Tuesday in Brooklyn. Credit: Ed Quinn

TORONTO — The Nets have been tight-lipped about the on-court changes implemented by interim coach Kevin Ollie. Any differences in schemes have been guarded like state secrets.

“You got to watch the game. I don’t want to say nothing until the game starts,” Dennis Smith Jr. said at shootaround before the Nets’ matchup with the Raptors Thursday.

Dennis Schroder was more willing to tease things out. He said to expect more changes on the defensive end, which seems fitting since the Nets are 21st in defensive efficiency and were last seen losing by 50 points in Boston.

Ollie also said as much when he revealed that he wants to embrace the benefits of Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton sharing the court. While there are spacing issues with both being non-shooters, Ollie wants to take advantage of both being elite defenders.

“I think defensively there’s a lot of adjustments, and offensively of course too,” Schroder said. “But the main thing is doing everything as a team and being engaged. Just be excited to be around each other every single day and play with joy.”

Ollie’s changes will be analyzed over the next two months. But what matters more is how fast the Nets pick them up and if they can reverse trends they’ve shown all season.

Effort isn’t the reason they’re 9-26 against teams .500 or better. It also doesn’t explain offensive lulls at the wrong times or why they’re 15-27 without Simmons.

For Ollie, the changes he wants are more about breaking some habits instead of just improving the talent. They include more spacing, less isolation-ball, and more synergy on defense with better communication.

For Cam Thomas, Ollie said, that means pushing him to keep growing beyond scoring and focus on his improvement with rebounding and defensive awareness.

“When you do things simple, they usually work,” Ollie said. “You get too complicated, that’s when it starts getting muddy a little bit, when you’re trying to do it on your own. We have to use all of our resources of our players, all of their minds, because all of us, we got great basketball minds.”

Whatever happens, the Nets’ ceiling remains one of the bottom two play-in tournament spots. They’re 2 1⁄2 games behind the Hawks for the 10th and final spot, 4 1⁄2 games behind the Bulls for ninth place and 2 1⁄2 games ahead of the Raptors.

Starting Thursday, they have three games left against the Raptors, two remaining against the Hawks (both next week), and one with the Bulls on March 29 at Barclays Center. Those six games will be critical for tiebreaker purposes.

The Nets already own a tiebreaker advantage against the Bulls after beating them twice. The Nets and Hawks split two games decided by three combined points. As for the Raptors, the Nets won the first meeting, so their next win helps to gain the tiebreaker.

Tankathon, a site that tracks potential NBA draft order, projects the Nets’ remaining schedule as the second-easiest, based on opponent win percentage. However, they have an NBA-leading 17 road games left, including 10 in March, and the Nets’ eight road wins are tied with the Raptors for fourth- fewest in the Eastern Conference.

With Ollie, what matters most is how his changes translate to wins, not just a more positive attitude. But the Nets are eager to show those changes, even if they’re not saying what they are . . . yet.

“I think y’all will be able to see a difference in how we’re playing and how we’re going about our business on the court.” Smith said. “It’s a small sample size, but you know we should see a difference.”

More Brooklyn Nets

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months