Under Kenny Atkinson, the Nets have been one of the NBA’s most prolific three-point-shooting teams, but the problem is they haven’t always been a prolific three-point-making team. They were second in attempts and only 20th in three-point percentage last season, but that might be changing.
Through six games before facing the Knicks on Monday night at Madison Square Garden, the Nets’ .411 three-point percentage ranked second only to the Pacers’ .446 mark. They made 20 of 42 threes in a narrow loss to the defending champion Warriors on Sunday after hitting 19 of 40 two nights earlier in a two-point loss in New Orleans.
Still, the Nets aren’t immune to shooting slumps, and they hit a big one in a 115-96 loss to the Knicks. The Nets’ three-point percentage dipped to .289 on 11-for-38 shooting beyond the arc.
“It was a bad shooting night,” Atkinson said. “That can bring your spirit down.”
When the ball goes in the way it did against the Pelicans and Warriors, it’s pure bliss. For the first time in franchise history, four Nets made at least four threes against the Warriors: D’Angelo Russell was 5-for-8 and Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe each went 4-for-7 from deep.
That group didn’t even include Joe Harris, who came into the Knicks game shooting 65.2 percent (15-for-23) from three-point range in the previous five games. He has made at least one three-pointer in a career-high 22 straight games after shooting 3-for-5 against the Knicks.
The fact that Crabbe got it going against the Warriors seemed a good omen for the Nets. He sat out much of the preseason and the opener with a sprained ankle and shot only 5-for-19 from outside the arc in his first four games, but after finding that rhythm, Crabbe lapsed with a 1-for-6 three-point effort against the Knicks.
“Clearly, it’s been a struggle shooting the ball,” he said. “I’m just making sure I maximize all the time that I can get . . . I don’t control the lineups. I can only control what I produce when I’m out there on the floor.”
Atkinson may continue pairing Crabbe with backup point guard Dinwiddie. Whatever lineup the Nets use, Crabbe said they can be dangerous from the perimeter.
“We’re finding shots for each other within the flow of the offense,” Crabbe said. “Guys are shooting the ball well, playing with the pass. That’s what we preach a lot over here. You see the fruits of the labor.”
Just not against the Knicks.