The Nets are not the stealers

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Everything’s coming up Nets.

Brooklyn’s boys began 2013 with seven straight wins, going 9–1 in interim coach P.J. Carlesimo’s first 10 games. The Nets star backcourt is finally carrying the offensive load the way we hoped it would. Guys like crafty scoring guard MarShon Brooks and sharp-shooting big Mirza Teletovic, neither of whom got much run with ex-coach Avery Johnson at the helm, are beginning to make an impact off the bench.

But even when times are flush, teams should be looking to improve. And one area that could use some work is the Nets’ ability to create turnovers.

The Nets’ defense has been lauded this season for ranking fifth in the league in points allowed per contest. That sounds great — until you consider that the Nets play at a slower pace than just about anyone in the NBA. At last check, only New Orleans tallied fewer possessions per game.

A slower pace means fewer opportunities for the other team to score — which doesn’t necessarily mean the Nets are playing outstanding defense. While Indiana — an elite defense that allows the fewest points per contest league-wide — holds opponents to the NBA’s lowest shooting percentage, Brooklyn ranks in the bottom third of that category.

Opposing teams are making 46 percent of their shots against the Nets. For perspective, that’s well above the Ben Wallace’s career average from the free-throw line.

As the season wears on, forcing more turnovers will lead to easier points and less pressure on Brooklyn’s half-court offense. The Nets rank 25th in turnovers-per-game, and the dearth of opportunistic defense begins with the back court. Point guards tend to be ball swipers; the league’s top five in steals are all starting point men. And yet 28 point guards average more steals per game than Nets’ franchise guard Deron Williams. Shooting guard Joe Johnson is even worse: Despite logging more minutes per game than all but seven players in the NBA, Steal-less Joe is 191st in pilfers per contest.

Yes, it’s good to be a Nets fan right now. With more disruptive defense, it could be even better.

Matt Spolar is a nearly 6-foot-1 journalist with a middling high school basketball career who is sure the Nets win thanks to team’s top-tier guards.

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