Right from the opening game at Barclays Center this preseason, Avery Johnson stressed that the Nets needed to become a more consistent defensive unit. He knew it may take some time, but right now the Brooklyn coach feels like his team is not as tough defensively as they should be, especially on the back of two straight losses. Johnson wants his troops to get a little nastier (to paraphrase Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) when they protect the paint.
“We don’t have a hit-first mentality, and if you don’t have a hit-first mentality, you’re going to get hit,” said Johnson, who was encouraged by Sunday’s practice. “So it’s not about a turnover or a guy forgetting a play. No, I’m talking about defensively. We haven’t done a good job — I don’t care if we’re fatigued, I don’t care if we didn’t practice. We haven’t done a good job protecting the paint. For us to go where we want to go, we have to be able to protect the paint a lot better than what we have.
“This team does not have the personality that I thought it would have at this point, that has been somewhat of a disappointment. Are they trying? Yes. Is anybody panicking? No. But we should have a little bit more physicality.”