Nets Hope to Hit Stride SoonAdded - Dec. 30, 2014 - Comments
The Brooklyn Nets made some serious moves to bring in veteran talent before last season, with a definite eye toward making a serious run at an NBA title. Indeed, this team showed quite a bit more resilience than it had the year before in the post-season, when it folded, but nonetheless, even after an upset of third-seeded Toronto in the opening round, fell to the eventual East champion Miami Heat. First-year coach Jason Kidd had hit pay dirt by going with a small lineup, and so there was some satisfaction after his rookie season at the helm. But Kidd really rolled the dice after that, engaging in what can only be described as a "power play" with general manager Billy King for control of basketball decisions related to the franchise. He lost, and shuffled off to Milwaukee.
Lionel Hollins, who had most recently piloted the Memphis Grizzlies, was hired as the new coach, and he came in with a reputation for disciplined, deliberate play. Some of that was not so unfamiliar to the Nets players, who were used to something less than a breakneck pace. But shortly after the start of training camp, Hollins was open in bemoaning the lack of discipline on the squad. So NBA bettors were wondering whether this would be a season of transition, and even some confusion.
Certainly there was going to be a re-introduction for center Brook Lopez, an all-star caliber performer who suffered a foot injury that kept him out all of last season. That is what eventually brought Kidd around to going with a small lineup in the first place. Gone is Paul Pierce, the future Hall of Famer who had, unbelievably, played the power forward position for most of the campaign. Kevin Garnett is still on hand, at power forward now, and although he is long in the tooth, he can still pull down the rebounds (8.2 per game) when he isn't being strategically rested. There is no question that this team has talent; point guard Deron Williams and swingman Joe Johnson are among the most skilled players in the league. But this is a club that needs to get things together, and they hope this past week's results may be indicative that they are turning the corner.
The Nets had a very difficult back-to-back situation, facing the hated New York Knicks on Tuesday and the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. They emerged victorious in both games, although they had to go to overtime to beat the Spurs. Mirza Teletovic, who had gone 4-for-21 in his previous three games, really found the mark from three-point range, hitting five out of seven shots. On an overall basis, Brooklyn has been very cold from beyond the arc. If they can cure those ills, they will go a long way toward providing the kind of room people like Lopez, a very formidable inside scorer, needs to negotiate their way underneath.