In the words of former NFL Coach Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.” What I mean by that statement is that the 2010-11 New Jersey Nets are exactly who we thought they were. During their five-game home stand they showed some great signs and actually looked like a competitive team. They even prompted me to map out a way they could still make the playoffs (HAHA). But after the last two games I admit defeat and have realized that this team is still one of the bottom-feeders in the NBA.
Early last week the Nets ended their home stand with two exciting wins over the Cavaliers and the Grizzlies. They could have easily lost both games but showed some toughness and made the clutch plays in the 4th quarter to get wins. A 4-1 stretch for the Nets over 5 games was clearly their best run of the season and it got me (and I’m sure plenty of other delusional fans) thinking positive and hoping this team had an extended run in them. And then they flew to the Midwest and played the Indiana Pacers.
The game Saturday night against the Bucks was frustrating and the Nets clearly struggled to score, but at least Milwaukee had been playing decent basketball and they have some talent. The game that caused me to go back on the negative side with this team was the game against the Pacers. The Nets simply did not compete on the defensive end against Indiana, and gave up 68 in the 1st half and 124 in the game. They made Mike Dunleavy, Jr. look like an NBA superstar, and not the journeyman he is who hasn’t lived up to expectations. It was a game where the Nets scored 92 points, and still got blown completely out of the building.
Now after thinking about all of that let’s put the current state of the Indiana Pacers into perspective. They have lost 7 out of 8 (the only win being against the Nets) and they FIRED THEIR COACH after the next night’s game. Think about that for a second. The Nets didn’t get blown out by a team that was on a hot streak. They didn’t get beat by a team that was in the upper echelon of the League. They lost by 32 points to a team that was in utter turmoil and got rid of Jim O’Brien the next night. If I were a player on the Nets, after that loss I’d have trouble looking at myself in the mirror.
So then we come to tonight with the appearance of Carmelo Anthony in New Jersey, but in a Nuggets uniform. I agree with Avery Johnson’s statement that there is not much significance to ‘Melo playing at The Rock tonight. The Nets (correctly) put the trade rumors to bed 10 days ago and tonight just becomes another game that the team has to try and win. Denver is coming off of a loss to the Sixers last night, and they have not been playing that well. But after the Nets’ performance in their last two games, what would possibly make me think they would play well tonight? Games against Philly, Detroit and then Indiana again on Super Bowl Sunday round out the week. Enjoy.