For Brooklyn to advance to the second round for the first time since 2007 (when, ironically, the sixth-seeded New Jersey Nets upset third-seeded Toronto), the following matters must be addressed.
A season sweep of the defending champs? Yeah, Brooklyn is for real. But LeBron James doesn’t sound too worried about the red-hot Nets.
In this recent stretch, during which the Nets have won 13 of their last 17 games, it’s the three-point field-goal attempts that stand out the most.
That’s right. Jason Kidd, on his 41st birthday, outwitted the Dallas’ Rick Carlisle, a championship coach, with the game on the line.
Joe Johnson hit six 3-pointers in his 27 points, Mason Plumlee added 18 points, and the Brooklyn Nets won their 11th straight at home, beating the Boston Celtics 114-98 Friday night.
NBA teams are supposed to thrive at home, with the added boost from fans and friendly whistles from referees. Yet Brooklyn might as well have been deemed a neutral site last year.
Like so many, I implored the Nets to jettison their fledgling coach after they plunged to a 10-21 record to start the season. Then the Nets went 23-9 in 2014 before their loss to the Wizards last week.
The Nets have had 10 different players this season score over 20 points in a game, tied for the second-most in the league. 11 different Nets have earned game-high scoring honors.
Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter, Mirza Teletovic scored 17 off the bench and the Brooklyn Nets beat Miami for the third time in as many tries this season, topping the Heat 96-95 on Wednesday night.
Pierce, wearing protective tape on his shoulder, gutted through 30 minutes on Monday night and, when the game was on the line, he delivered the key stroke.
The “process,” as coach Jason Kidd likes to call it, has brought the Nets to this crucial juncture. A strong performance this week would send a message that Brooklyn belongs with more elite company.
Paul Pierce left the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night after suffering a sore right shoulder in the opening minutes and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
OK, so it wasn’t their Mount Everest — that would equate to the NBA title this nearly $200 million roster was expected to compete for before a 10-21 start put a damper on things — but I’ll take baby steps.
The Nets didn’t take long to put their worst loss in more than 10 years behind them. “We looked fresh after the back-to-back,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said.
All NBA teams have off nights, but few are as feckless as the Nets were Wednesday night in Portland during their 120-84 shellacking.