Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn isn’t big on New Year’s resolutions.
But in a season headlines by championship expectations, he offered a goal entering the new calendar year: extending Brooklyn’s league-best winning streak to 11 games with a victory against the Charlotte Hornets on New Year’s Eve.
“Maybe I’ll give a resolution after (we secure a victory),” Vaughn said ahead of tipoff Saturday night. “But it’s really keeping thing group in the now, playing today’s game, and let’s just win today’s game.”
The Nets have been the hottest team in all of basketball entering the New Year.
They entered Saturday night third place in the Eastern Conference behind only the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks and are tied for the fifth-best record in all of basketball. Brooklyn is 21-7 since Vaughn took over for Steve Nash as head coach and the team won 17 of its last 20 games entering Saturday’s matchup against the Hornets.
The Nets have done so with a roster that has gotten healthy but still remains inconsistent.
Sharpshooter Joe Harris missed his fourth straight game with soreness in his left knee. After missing all but 14 games due to a severe left ankle sprain that required two in-season surgeries, Harris — as he told The Daily News he anticipated — has had pain in other areas of his left leg.
Harris has missed games this season due to soreness in his left foot and most recently soreness in his left knee. While he remains one of the NBA’s top three-point shooters and a visibly improved defender, Harris has missed six of the team’s 35 games, but Vaughn said the team will re-visit him for Monday’s matchup at home against the San Antonio Spurs.
“He’ll stay at home, rejoin us [in Brooklyn]. Hopefully, we’ll assess him when we get back,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “But he will not play Charlotte, so no need to fly him. Just thinking it through, keep them there, see what happens in these next three days.”
Nets star Ben Simmons has also been in and out of the rotation after a season-long layoff from basketball followed by an off-season procedure on his lower back.
Simmons, who recently missed time due to a calf strain, had a non-Covid related illness that rendered him questionable ahead of Saturday’s game. He not practice and was at limited capacity against the Hornets.
“[We left him] back at the hotel. Best to keep in there. He’ll fly with us to Charlotte,” Vaughn said over the practice weekend. “I guess [Charlotte] could be up in the air as one of those non-COVID [illnesses]. I’m not even sure we’ll list him, but all signs point towards him playing.”
This Nets’ season has been defined by winning games regardless of who’s on the floor, and it sounds like more of the same will need to be on the docket it Vaughn’s New Year’s Resolution is going to materialize.