Brooklyn Nets interim head coach Kevin Ollie slaps five with...

Brooklyn Nets interim head coach Kevin Ollie slaps five with guard Dennis Schroder in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center on Saturday, March 2, 2024. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Nets have said all season that sharing the basketball is one of their formulas for winning. Their two-game winning streak has showed why it works.

They totaled 58 assists in their two wins over the Hawks. Contrast that with only 21 total turnovers and it’s a drastic turnaround from their 18-assist, 22-turnover showing in their 27-point loss to the Magic earlier last week.

It’s also given the Nets and their fans a rare reason to celebrate. They dominated a shorthanded Hawks team, Kevin Ollie improved to 3-3 as interim coach and Saturday’s victory over Atlanta marked the second time in 13 games that all five starters scored in double figures.

“We have to play like that,” Ollie said after Thursday’s win. “Our recipe that we need to keep cooking is low turnovers and sharing the cake, and I keep saying that over and over again.”

The plan, of course, was easier with a healthy Ben Simmons. The Nets have won five of the 14 games in which they have recorded at least 30 assists, with Simmons playing in eight of those contests.

But what’s impressive is that they also have a winning record (4-2) in games in which they have totaled at least 30 assists without Simmons, who has missed the last three games.

“Ball movement, player movement, finding spots. We have capable guys,” Cam Johnson said. “It’s something we’ve known all along that should be a strong suit for this team.

“And then I really think Dennis Schroder is getting comfortable with this group and understanding what our simple terminology play-call system is. He’s getting to spots and finding guys. Even when things break down, he’s beating his guy off the dribble, so that’s been big for us, too.”

Schroder had seven and eight assists, respectively, in the past two games with Simmons out because of left leg soreness. With a back-to-back starting Monday against the Grizzlies, Schroder will get more time to play extended minutes; Simmons, who remains day-to-day, according to Ollie, isn’t cleared to play both ends of consecutive games.

Simmons was listed as questionable for Monday’s game, but the Nets added more clarity to his injury with a familiar diagnosis. He is listed on the injury report with a nerve impingement in his left lower back. It’s the same injury that caused him to miss more than two months earlier this season.

Simmons suffered a left hip injury on Nov. 6 against the Bucks. After missing three games, it was determined he was suffering from the impingement in his back and he missed an additional 35 games until Jan. 29. A nerve impingement in the right side of his back ended Simmons’ 2022-23 season after 42 games.

It’s no secret the Nets’ offense loses a gear without Simmons. The only way the Nets can work around it is by Schroder playing well and others finding teammates instead of relying on Mikal Bridges or Cam Thomas to bail them out. Dennis Smith Jr. also has helped with at least five assists in each of the last three games.

It’s a plan that must continue with a friendly schedule this week against the Grizzlies, the 76ers minus Joel Embiid, the Pistons and the Hornets.

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