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Nets’ surprising success can’t soothe Kenny Atkinson’s misery

The sideline persona is no act.

The mix of distress and passion that contorts Kenny Atkinson’s encounter and system language every single evening, indifferent to the scoreboard, under no circumstances fully goes absent. The Nets coach is fast paced guiding of one particular of the NBA’s most-enhanced groups, successful substantially more than he experienced in his initially two decades on the bench, and still he finds himself not able to relish it.

“I never take pleasure in one particular next of this,” Atkinson deadpanned Tuesday just after apply. “I truly never.”

Atkinson required that taken in context, not to be listened to as a grievance.

“I love the recreation, I love the firm, I love the players, but you just have this continuous pit in your tummy,” Atkinson said. “I explained to my wife [Monday] evening, I said, ‘The anxiousness only leaves just after a get.’ That moment from the get [until] you have your dinner or regardless of what, and then this early morning you wake up and you’re worried about Washington, and, ‘Man, we gotta get that one particular, what an essential recreation.’ It is just a tiny window exactly where the anxiousness disappears.”

In that perception, there have been some much less nervous postgame meals this year for Atkinson. Just after heading a put together 48-116 about the previous two decades of the rebuild, the Nets enter Wednesday’s meeting with the Wizards at Barclays Center with a 32-30 file, even now in sixth put in the Jap Convention, exactly where they have resided for just about a month.

But there are even now just 4 ½ games separating the Nets from 10th put, and with 20 games still left, Atkinson is not about to prevent agonizing about just about every decision or combating for just about every possession from the sideline.

“His fiery competitive self, which is pleasure for him,” Caris LeVert said.

“How he appears to be when he’s coaching throughout the games is how he is in apply, how he is when he’s executing movie,” Joe Harris said.

The results have entered Atkinson into the Coach of the Yr conversation. He may have some tricky levels of competition, which include his mentor Mike Budenholzer, whose Bucks personal the most effective file in the league a 12 months just after getting the Jap Conference’s No. 7 seed, and Mike Malone, whose Nuggets have absent from out of the playoffs to crashing the top of the Western Conference’s hierarchy.

“I consider [Atkinson] could be top a few,” Jared Dudley said. “He’s been all the things and more, to be honest with you. He retains guys accountable, he’s respectful and thoughtful of particular strategies and of keeping guys engaged when you’re not enjoying, communicating what you have to have to do. So he does all the things the correct way.”

Now, Atkinson is going through one particular of his largest issues — “Probably the toughest part,” Dudley said. He retained an injuries-riddled team alongside one another and successful throughout the center of the year, and now that the Nets are nearing total overall health — only Spencer Dinwiddie (thumb) is even now missing — Atkinson is striving to determine out how to get them all enjoying time, preserve the team content and, most importantly, even now get.

“I consider which is exactly where you received to rely on your locker space, rely on the characters that we have below,” said Atkinson, who has not played Dudley or Rondae Hollis-Jefferson the previous two games. “That getting said, I assume stress.

“I consider which is on me to connect with all those guys truly nicely, like I’m not leaving them on an island and keeping them in the mix and keeping them concerned with what we do. Because we’ll have to have them.”

In the meantime, the pit in Atkinson’s tummy will remain. The firm he has invested so substantially time into is closing in on a playoff bid and there’s tiny time in the working day-to-working day grind to consider about the huge-photograph reward.

“I feel like groups reflect their head coach and I feel like we reflect Kenny,” LeVert said. “He’s competitive, quite competitive, but also he gives us a ton of self confidence.”

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