No more Deron Williams — he’s down in Dallas.
Paul Pierce is gone too, soaking up the sun in Los Angeles.
And Jason Kidd? He’s commanding a young ship of kids in Milwaukee.
But a Brooklyn team without Joe Johnson? What’s the word? Brutal? Empty?
Brooklyn’s Backcourt is officially no longer and any shrouds of that hopeful future, high-money spending, and Russian Roulette with Father Time are dead and gone. Left, as always, in his stead is Brook Lopez — the only remaining member of the 2010-2011 Nets and a harsh reminder that life’s best laid schemes often go awry.
At 15-42, the Nets were bad before, but without Joe, what could we reasonably expect from this shell of a team? Would we be welcomed nicely to the post-iso-Joe era or could the franchise be shoved even deeper into the manic draft pick-less reality where there are no reservations for success and nobody gets out alive? If Phoenix was any indication, however, the Nets may be OK without Johnson after all.
As Ian Eagle dutifully pointed out on the YES Network, the buyout of Johnson would likely have a major impact on the Nets’ offense. Without him, despite averaging just under 12 ppg, the Nets no longer possess a fantastic shot-creator other than Lopez.
Or, in layman’s terms, if Lopez gets in foul trouble, they may be well and truly screwed. Maybe, then, Bojan Bogdanovic didn’t get the memo as he exploded for 13 points in Johnson’s (and Lopez’s!) absence. Paired with a strong Shane Larkin performance, the (new?) duo helped the Nets pour in 34 first quarter points — so, uh, Joe who?
Admittedly, it was fun — but who didn’t expect things to come crashing down in the second? Instead, the faithful fans were treated to a smorgasbord of strangely aesthetic highlights from Brooklyn. The second quarter alone brought blocks from Thaddeus Young, Thomas Robinson, and Willie Reed, a fearsome Markel Brown poster with the left hand on Tyson Chandler, and a Bogdanovic In Flames revival.
66-45 at halftime — who’da thunk it?
Mirza Teletovic caught fire in the third and the former Net cut into Brooklyn’s lead briefly, but a seven steal effort from Young and the near triple-double stuffing from Sloan kept the lead ballooning towards 20 points. You don’t need to remind me that the Suns give up 107.4 PPG (29th) or that they have even less to play for than Brooklyn, but there were just so many wonderful efforts on the Nets’ end of things tonight — and none of them included Lopez or Johnson.
Perhaps the future is finally here.
The fourth quarter was just garbage time played out — but isn’t it fun to be on the other side of it for once? Chris McCullough dunked for the first time, Eagle dropped a Fearza reference, and Brown continued to impress out West. Although things got bumpy towards the very end, they got the win and left us with one sentiment:
The Nets are 1-0 in the post-Joe Johnson era and it kinda feels alright.