By Steve Silverman
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Take a look at today’s NBA standings and you will get a shocker.
1. New York
The first thing that comes to mind is 1956. The standings look like they were taken out of the late, lamented New York Herald Tribune (ceased publication in 1966) in August of that year.
They look like they were the National League standings, with the New York Giants in first place and the Brooklyn Dodgers and Milwaukee Braves tied for second place.
It’s still a shock to see “Brooklyn” in the standings, and it likely will be for a full season. (The good kind of shock.)
But once you realize that we have not been transported back in Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean to the mid-1950s, you realize that both New York basketball teams are off to impressive starts.
The Knicks picked up a signature, come-from-behind win at San Antonio on Thursday night, and the Nets said they did the same when they defeated the Boston Celtics, 102-97, at Barclays Center.
However, while the Nets appear to be much better than they were a year ago while playing in New Jersey, a mid-November win over the Celtics is anything but a signature win.
The Celtics are a team of ancient warriors. Even though they have gotten somewhat younger this year with the departure of Ray Allen, they still depend on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, along with the quicksilver Rajon Rondo.
An ancient basketball team has to watch itself during the regular season, and the Celtics have not even come close to finding their level this season. They are not pushing it very hard in the early season. They came from behind at halftime to put on a 29-15 surge in the third quarter.
If that run had discouraged the Nets, the Celtics would have won the game.
But it did not.
Joe Johnson and Jerry Stackhouse wanted this win and wanted it badly. The Celtics did not have the inclination to keep pressing down hard on the gas pedal in the fourth quarter.
That’s good enough for head coach Doc Rivers at this point in the year.
An 82-game season is a long time for a venerable team like the Celtics. While few teams would ever risk it, the Celtics are saving their energy. They are building up to a crescendo.
You will see much more of an effort from them by the end of December, and when the schedule is in the dog days of late February and early March, they will turn it up a notch again. By the time the regular season ends, they will be peaking and will probably be a top four team in the Eastern Conference.
So, while a win over the Celtics in mid-November is nice, it’s not the same thing as beating that team in green in April.
When the Celtics host the Nets on April 10, that game could go a long way towards determining a playoff position for the Nets. If the Celtics are playing for home court or a top seed in the Eastern Conference, they will provide a lot more than a third-quarter as they compete for the win. A road victory at that point will mean a lot more than an early-season win at home.
Thursday night’s game was a good win for the Nets, and it should fuel their confidence and desire. However, it proved nothing.
Avery Johnson is not the kind of coach who will allow anyone to be satisfied with the win.
It’s just part of the process of becoming a legitimate playoff team. That’s what the Nets should be all about this season.
Do you agree that while this was a good win, when it comes down to it it proved nothing? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…