Breaking Down The Schedule: Part III

Welcome to part III in our “Breaking Down the Schedule” series. After Sebastian predicted the Nets to go 9-11 in their first 20 games, Mark then predicted an 8-12 stretch for the Nets, which means after 40 games we at NAS have the Nets at 17-23. Let’s see how the Nets might do from games 41-60 in the schedule this year.

This stretch of games is assuming we have the roster we have now, with no major deals being made or injuries occurring. (Re: January 31st could end up looking very different when all is said and done.)

January 17th: @ Golden State

The Nets end their four-game west coast trip with an easy afternoon game against Golden State in Anthony Morrow’s first game back against his former team. Whether or not he or Terrence Williams is starting, Golden State doesn’t have the defensive chops to keep up with the balanced attack New Jersey can throw at them. Stephen Curry might score 30+, but the Nets win a shootout. 18-23

January 19th: vs. Utah

Coming back home, the Nets start a five-game homestand against the Jazz. With Al Jefferson replacing Carlos Boozer, the Utah squad remains very deep and very talented, and I don’t see the Nets pulling one out here. 18-24

January 21st: vs. Detroit

The Nets bounce back from a loss at Utah with a dominating performance over the Detroit Pistons, have no answer for Brook Lopez since Greg Monroe is hitting the rookie wall and Ben Wallace is now 30% hair. 19-24

January 22nd: vs. Dallas

The annual Jason Kidd Bowl in New Jersey is back, and while the Nets put up a good fight, Dallas ekes out a close one on a dominating shooting performance from Dirk Nowitzki. Devin Harris crosses Kidd up a few times and reminds him who’s boss, but at the end of the day Dallas gets the W. 19-25

January 24th: vs. Cleveland

The Nets take advantage of the Saturday off and beat the LeBron-less Cavaliers in a laugher. Terrence Williams has a field day with the Cavaliers lack of defensive presence everywhere. This is one of those “T-Will Triple Double Watch” games. 20-25

January 26th: vs. Memphis

The Nets end the homestand strong, relying on a balanced attack and Troy Murphy stretching Zach Randolph out of the paint on defense. Brook gets a little stifled by the presence of Marc Gasol, but Travis Outlaw makes up for his awful game against Memphis last year (1-9 shooting) and leads the Nets to victory. 21-25

January 28th: @ Indiana

Indiana is a team that always seems to be in the middle of the pack – they’re never loaded with talent but always have enough to get by. I think the home-court advantage is enough for them here, and the Pacers steal one at home thanks to Darren Collison and Danny Granger. 21-26

January 29th: @ Milwaukee

Brandon Jennings made news recently by saying that Milwaukee, not Chicago, is the team to beat in the East, and while that may or may not be true I can’t see the Nets beating them on the back end of back-to-back away games. 21-27

January 31st: vs. Denver

This game is silly to predict, since players may be switching uniforms, but let’s say the unthinkable happens and Carmelo just signs an extension with Denver. In that case, I still have the Nets winning this one, as the boos from The Rock are too much for Anthony and the Nets roll behind Devin Harris destroying Chauncey Billups in transition. 22-27

February 2nd: vs. Philadelphia

A match-up of two of the top three picks, Derrick Favors sets out to prove that he can hang with the big boys and takes over the middling front line in Philadelphia. Evan Turner has a solid game but Philadelphia’s backcourt can’t keep up with the quickness of Terrence Williams and Devin Harris. Outlaw doesn’t overpower Iguodala, but keeps him in check, and the Nets win easily. 23-27

February 4th: @ Detroit

The Nets travel to Detroit less than two weeks after taking them down at home, and this time is no different. Rip Hamilton can’t keep up defensively with Morrow and Williams and the two combine for 40+ points. Favors is really starting to come around at this point in the season, showing that he’s more than just a giant project, and throws down a few flashy dunks to humiliate the Pistons front line. 24-27

February 6th: vs. Indiana

The Nets make up for their mishap on the 28th and Troy Murphy finally sticks it to his old team. It’s an impressive showing, which he’ll need since Derrick Favors is really starting to come on strong and compete for the starting PF spot.  25-27

February 9th: vs. New Orleans

The Nets’ four-game winning streak is snapped in a valiant effort. Brook, Troy, and Derrick have their hands full with Emeka Okafor and David West, and while they get the upper hand the wizardry of Chris Paul proves to be just too much in the end. 25-28

February 11th: @ Charlotte

The Nets have had the upper hand on Charlotte for some time now (winning two of their 12 games against them last year), and while I think we match up well this is just one of those away games that gets out of hand. The Bobcats have had a stellar defensive reputation in the last couple of years and I think they’ll stymie the Nets at home. 25-29

February 12th: vs. New York

The Nets host the Knicks for the first time at the Rock, and you’ve got to imagine that fans of both teams will be out in full force. You’ve also got to assume that the Knicks, now short a true center, will be unable to handle Brook Lopez down low. Nets win a big one against their cross-state rival. 26-29

February 14th: vs. San Antonio

Riding high after winning five of their last six games, the Nets finally run into a wall, as Tiago Splitter holds down Brook, Tim Duncan holds down Murphy/Favors, and Richard Jefferson has a big game in a bounce-back year against his former team. 26-30

February 16th: @ Boston

The final game of a two-game homestand starts a particularly difficult stretch for the Nets, as they run into five straight probable playoff teams. The Nets beat the Eastern Conference Champions in a shocker in Boston last year, but I just can’t see that happening again. If Perkins is back by now (and he should be), the Celtics will take this one as the Nets head into the All-Star Break. 26-31

February 25th: @ San Antonio

Eleven days after losing to them at home, the Nets face the Spurs back on their home turf. Brook Lopez returns from his first All-Star appearance looking as good as ever, but the Spurs combination of solid big men and crafty wings is just too much. Nets lose their third in a row. 26-32

February 26th: @ Houston

Houston is one of those teams that always seems to put out quality products despite the lack of many big names. Daryl Morey is definitely to blame for this, and I’ll blame him all the way as the Nets go 0-2 on their Texas back-to-back. 26-33

February 28th: vs. Phoenix

Rough stretch, huh? The Suns are Amareless but still boast a fearsome squad with Steve Nash running the point. I’m of the opinion that the lesser Lopez brother is primed for a breakout year, and watching the two go at it should be a lot of fun, but I think Brook and the Nets take this one in a close shootout. I hope there’s a betting line on threes between Steve Nash, Channing Frye, and Anthony Morrow. 27-33

So, after 60 games, we have the Nets at 27-33. Not great, but still over twice as many wins as last season and probably not completely out of contention. Tune in next week as we tackle the final 22 games of the schedule in the grand finale.