Near the end of Avery Johnson’s tenure, Johnson threw out lineup combination after lineup combination for one to two minutes at a time, hoping to see something that would “stick” without waiting around to see how it stuck. In Johnson’s final two games as Nets coach — both blowout losses — he used 17 and 20 lineups, respectively; only one for longer than 10 minutes in a game and 19 of them (more than half) for less than 90 seconds.
Under P.J. Carlesimo, the rotations are a little tighter: the best lineup will often get 15-25 minutes of playing time in a game, and other than in rapid-fire substitution mode late in crunch time, the Nets won’t see too many lineups that only get seconds together. Just look at the last game against New York: Carlesimo used only 11 lineups, and three of them came in that last minute of offense-defense switching in a late-game situation. The starters played 20 minutes together, and four other lineups played stretches of four or more minutes.
Bench players have a longer leash. MarShon Brooks has had some of his best games under Carlesimo, and openly said that the game, and the team, felt different. Mirza Teletovic, the fifth big in the rotation, has had an opportunity to miss three-pointers before making them. There are only so many minutes to go around — and with Kris Humphries looking back to form now, even less — but the starters are playing more minutes together, the bench players are getting chances, substitutions aren’t coming every 90 seconds, and quite suddenly, this team has found a rhythm.