"Stat Just Happened" is our series where we'll pair an important stat with how it actually unfolded on the floor. Our aim? To answer key questions, uncover hidden truths and peel back the curtain on why some numbers matter more than others.
Today, the Brooklyn Nets' defence steps into the spotlight as they get set to take on the Philadelphia 76ers in this week's Bell Game of the Week.
That's the number of points per 100 plays the Brooklyn Nets have allowed in halfcourt possessions this season according to Cleaning the Glass. Through eight games, that ranks Brooklyn third in the league in that category. The only two teams ahead of them? The Phoenix Suns who are off to a great start and the Philadelphia 76ers who the Nets will host in the Bell Game of the Week on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on TSN.
Coming into the season, no one questioned whether or not the Nets would be able to score. So far we've seen them put up 145 points against the Hawks and 130 against the Jazz - both in regulation. Their offensive rating of 113.5 ranks them top five in the NBA, but their defence (or lack thereof) was always going to be under a microscope.
So far the Nets are giving up 105.7 points per 100 possessions which is good enough for seventh in the league in defensive rating according to NBA Stats. On the surface, that number would lead you to believe that the Nets are just fine defensively, but skeptics will tell you three of the Nets' four wins this season have been blowouts and in three of their four losses they've given up at least 114 points. So how can we tell how good this Nets team can be defensively? Their halfcourt defence.
The fact that the Nets have the third-best halfcourt defence in the league despite limited training camp, limited practice time and are learning under a first-time head coach should leave Nets fans optimistic that their defence isn't as bad as a handful of possessions might show. When you also factor in the fact that Jarrett Allen, the team's best defensive anchor, has split minutes most of his minutes with DeAndre Jordan and Jeff Green it's pretty surprising they've been this good in the halfcourt.
Are they an elite defence? No, there's still work to be done there. But the foundation to be a defence good enough to win a title is certainly there. Brooklyn doesn't have any elite defenders but they do have Allen who's coming into his own on that end and Joe Harris who is a better defender than he gets credit for. They've also seen Kyrie Irving more engaged on that end of the floor in his first four games this season. And as Kevin Durant continues to get comfortable being himself on the court his defensive effort should also fuel the team.
It's still early, and the Nets should probably still look for another wing defender before the trade deadline, but there should be optimism about the ability for this Nets team to defend.
When the games slow down in the playoffs, halfcourt defence will be the only thing that matters and so far the Nets are showing they can defend in a halfcourt setting.
Thursday's Bell Game of the Week against the 76ers will be another test in the early part of the season.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.