Avery, I feel your pain. Starting today we at NAS will be giving you a weekly recap in the form of our Monday Musings, a look back at the week that was. As all Nets fans know the team is in the midst of a major slump. They’ve lost seven in a row and are now just 6-18 on the season. The team continues to keep games close but they can’t seem to get the W’s. And of course it doesn’t help that the crosstown rival Knicks don’t lose and are the talk of the NBA.
I know I should only be concerned about the Nets and their play, but it’s just impossible not to notice what the Knicks have been doing. Not only are they winning, not only is Amare dropping 70 in every game, but there is now a renewed sense of excitement surrounding them, and frankly it makes me sick to my stomach. Coming into this season I felt the Nets had more talent on their roster than the Knicks, and I had hoped that New Jersey would be the team that would be a few games over .500 a quarter of the way through the season. But despite the fact that the Nets have been much more competitive, at the end of the day W’s are all that count.
This past week the Nets clearly played three of the better teams in the NBA, and when you talk about the Mavs and Lakers, two of the best teams in the entire league. And aside from yesterday when they had a real chance down the stretch, each game followed the same script. Keep the game somewhat close, look like they may have a chance to make a late run, and then end up losing by double digits. I can’t even count how many times this has happened this season and it’s getting infuriating. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that this team competes, and there is no doubt that Avery Johnson has their ear in the locker room, but can they start WINNING SOME GAMES?!?!? There has been definite progress over last season when they weren’t even showing up to games, but this whole keep-the-game-kind-of-close-and-then-fade-in-the-fourth-quarter routine is getting old.
So yesterday at the Rock the Nets actually had a chance to snap their losing streak and beat the defending NBA Champions. And unlike their usual routine, this game was tied with 2 minutes to go. But yesterday highlights an issue that I thought may be problematic before this season started. Let me pose a question to you all: Do the Nets have a go-to-guy in crunch time? Sure, Devin Harris has made a few big shots in his career but I remember writing before the season started about the need for a guy like Travis Outlaw to step up and maybe be the guy that takes the important shots down the stretch. In many of the team’s close games this season, they have had major trouble executing in the final minutes and yesterday was no different. After D. Harris hit one runner to tie it up, the Nets then couldn’t score and before you knew it the Lake Show was up by 5. Maybe the solution is to go to Brook Lopez more in the final minutes? He was having a good bit of success against Gasol yesterday.
The last issue I’ll touch upon is the crowd yesterday in Newark. I was honestly surprised to see the stands full (attendance was 16,561)…but then I remembered the Nets were playing the Lakers. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that a third (perhaps more) of those fans were rooting for LA, which is quite embarrassing if you ask me. I wrote a lengthy piece about the Nets fans and The Rock before the season started and scenes like yesterday were not exactly what I had in mind. Look, there’s always going to be fans of the Lakers, Celtics, Heat (all the big teams in the League) at Nets games, but to hear such pronounced cheering for an opposing team is not a good sign.
As we close the book on last week and move forward the Nets have four very winnable games this week (though let’s start with ONE WIN). Three home games, with the only road game being at Toronto should give them the opportunity to end this losing streak. But let’s put it this way, if I’m writing this next Monday after another winless week, it’s going to get ugly around here.