After the Brooklyn Nets edged out the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night 108-107 at State Farm Arena to win the 10th consecutive game, one of the biggest stars in the NBA praised his head coach for the turnaround.
“When you follow the game plan that works, you start believing more and more in what we’re doing every day,” Kevin Durant said. “I felt like we didn’t have an identity to start the season, and then we started to figure it out these last few weeks, this last month or so. We’re starting to move, we’re figuring out our identity as a team.”
Brooklyn started the season 1-5 under former head coach Steve Nash, who was fired on Nov. 1. Now, under his replacement Jacque Vaughn, who was the interim head coach before being named head coach, the team has won 14 of 15 games. Durant continued and while he didn’t mention Nash by name, he did name-drop his current coach.
“You walk into every game believing, ‘All right, if we stick to this template and to this structure that we have, we’ll be fine regardless of what goes on in the game,’ ” Durant said. “Up and down, get down big, get up big and lose the lead — just knowing what we want to do every time we step on the floor just keeps our mind at ease. We have that belief in whatever Jacque tells us.”
Vaughn has also been successful in keeping the team mindset on basketball. Amid the Kyrie Irving antisemitism controversy and suspension, many thought would ruin the team and suggested the team trade their stars.
Brooklyn probably won’t be favored to win it all against a healthy Boston Celtics or Milwaukee Bucks team in April. But because of the team’s focus on the defensive end of the court and Vaughn’s ability to motivate the team to play better, a healthy Nets team has a fighting chance.