On the Ball: Nets Needed This One
Immediately after the Brooklyn Nets threw away their future in acquiring aging veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics last June for three first-round picks and a number of throw-in players (including the woefully overpaid Gerald Wallace) my Dad (fellow Nets fan) wanted my reaction. Here was our exchange:
Dad: So what do you think of the Nets getting Pierce and Garnett? Do you think they’ll be the favorites in the East?
Me (ready to go off on yet another tangent): Uh no. How old are those guys? They’re like my age. I can’t even go bowling without pulling a muscle. Besides the Heat and Pacers are still better.
The Nets mortgaged their future to get out of the first round next year. That’s it. Then they have to rebuild without a first round pick in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Good luck to that.
I’ve seen better Knicks deals from James Dolan. Billy King (Nets GM) really did us in on this one. Oh wait, at least we traded away Wallace. I guess I’m alright with the trade after all.
With all the focus on Garnett and Pierce (and away from the loss of draft picks) it was hard not to eventually be positive about the current state of the team—then the season got under way.
A 10–21 start to the season and suddenly the only positive to the deal (this year’s talented roster) had gone belly-up—or so I thought.
I remember complaining to my poor Mom about this (I really need some more Brooklyn fans in my circle) and how Billy King, the architect of the brilliant Gerald Wallace signing, had somehow dug himself a deeper hole.
Fortunately for him, Jason Kidd’s small-ball lineup turned the season around. A 34–17 record to end the season and suddenly, they’re in first round of the playoffs against the opponent they (thought) they wanted—Toronto.
By the way, the Nets are surely kicking themselves for losing their way into playing the Raptors in the opening round (they blew four of their last five regular season games) over the Bulls, at this point—even though they won.
Washington, of all teams, ran over a Derrick Rose-less Chicago team in a five-game yawner. Even the-then next opponent, Indiana, looks like they’ve had a fork stuck in them since early March. Meanwhile, Miami’s been resting for a week now.
Despite the big offseason trade, it was actually Kidd’s lineup change again that turned the tide for the Nets against the Raptors. Game 6’s switch of bringing Shaun Livingston off the bench in favor of Alan Anderson worked beautifully as Deron Williams (23 points) starred with the ball back in his hands.
Sticking with the lineup switch for Sunday’s Game 7, Livingston (10 points, 3 assists in 18 minutes) did well with the second unit, while the Nets were able to get Toronto’s Amir Johnson (20 points, 10 rebounds in 22 foul-plagued minutes) into foul trouble, while guarding Paul Pierce, that was a big part the Nets’ win—they had little answer for him otherwise.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Joe Johnson poured in 26 points too, although they actually got out of their offensive rhythm after just giving him the ball every possession toward the end.
It all added up to a series win the Nets had to have. Otherwise, well, at least they got rid of Wallace.