The Nets current starting five of Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett lost their first game together on Monday night, a heartbreaking 104-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors. That might not mean much to most teams in an 82-game season, but the Nets are a different case.
Since returning from a sprained left ankle, platelet-rich plasma therapy treatment, and cortisone shots in both ankles, Brooklyn’s star guard Deron Williams has come off the bench for five straight games to work his way back into the rotation. Williams has had no issue with this — “it was my idea,” he said after his initial return against the New York Knicks on January 21st — but he’s played starter’s minutes in all five games.
Even though the Nets have gotten outstanding production from their bench with Williams in the second unit, coach Jason Kidd knows that his nominal starting point guard must return to the starting lineup at some point, perhaps sooner rather than later.
“The second group has been great when you look at the stats, so we’ll continue to look at it, but at some point we’re going to have to get him back with that first group,” Kidd admitted.
“We gave him and Joe (Johnson) rest days today, so we’ll see tomorrow how they feel,” he added. “We’ll see if we have time to get him with that first group (tomorrow).”
Kidd didn’t confirm who Williams would replace in that inevitable return. It’d either be Alan Anderson or Shaun Livingston. Inserting Williams in the lineup with Anderson would allow Williams to play primarily point guard, but Livingston has been effective as a starter and the Nets have had success with the two-point guard lineup. If it happens Friday, Livingston would probably stick with the starters: the Nets play the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Livingston was the primary defender on MVP frontrunner Kevin Durant in the last matchup between the teams.