The Nets may have gone into Monday night’s game against the Spurs winners of 11 in a row, but coach Jacque Vaughn indicated they’re still on their way to unlocking the full magnitude of their potential. Believe it or not, this is still a work in progress, he said.
“I think we’re still learning,” Vaughn said, speaking specifically to this recent stretch where he’s had Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons and Kevin Durant playing to their full abilities for the first time since the trade that brought Simmons in from Philadelphia. Then there’s involving Nic Claxton, who's been nothing short of a revelation this year.
“There’s been a learning curve that we’re still searching for a little bit,” Vaughn said. “I just think overall, we’re still trying to get those three to be in the mix together and play minutes together and figure it out. We’ve figured out a little bit of the rotation of when [Kyrie's] going to be in in the second quarter, how Kevin runs the first and third. Last game we didn’t go with Ben to start the fourth, so it’s not set in stone yet and this group is continuing to get pieces back.”
Vaughn said he’s hoping to continue honing how he uses Claxton and Simmons — an ideal world being one where the two big men can rotate guarding the rim and perimeter with ease. Claxton leads the league in field goal percentage at 74.7% and is second in the league in blocks per game, at 2.5. Simmons, meanwhile, has been a complete player and a catalyst during this streak. And Vaughn thinks this type of production is sustainable.
“I think the best thing about this approach is that we’ve really simplified things,” he said. “I think we’ve done a great job of approaching that day’s game like it’s the most important game and we’ve learned to figure out how to win because we’ve done it in a variety of ways. For me, that’s probably been the most impressive part of it — just figuring it out.”
Harris available to play
Joe Harris was available after missing four games with a knee injury. Royce O’Neal and Markieff Morris were both out with a non-COVID illness. Seth Curry started for the first time this season.