Brooklyn Nets Weekend Recap


The Nets shook off a string of ugly losses this weekend, beating up on the Sixers and Hornets as Joe Johnson returned from injury.

As they reached the quarter mark of their 2014 season, the Brooklyn Nets already had their backs against the wall. Coming into Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn’s record stood at a mediocre 8-12, desperately clinging to the 8th seed. So far, the Nets have feasted on weaker competition, with a majority of their wins coming at the expense of the bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference. The win against San Antonio looks impressive when looked at individually but in the grand scheme of the entire season, it stands as their lone win against an above .500 club.

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In fairness to the Nets, a majority of the elite teams currently reside in the superior Western Conference and have only played 9 games that have been against opponents with a winning record. The fact that the Nets are winning the games they’re expected to is promising but they must begin to improve their play against top competition in order to make the playoffs. Thankfully, all but two East teams (Toronto and Cleveland) have an above .500 win percentage against teams with winning records.

Although the Nets weren’t able to improve on that dreadful 1-8 mark, there were still two winnable games on tap for the weekend. As mentioned earlier, the Sixers came to town on Friday and the next night, Brooklyn would finish off their back-to-back on the road against the Charlotte Hornets. A weekend sweep would be difficult with the bevy of injuries the Nets are currently hampered with but the Nets got the job done each night. The common theme in each game? Brooklyn’s ability to close out teams, which has ultimately been their kryptonite in the young season.

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In each game, Brooklyn was able to build a lead and subsequently add to it, as they outscored their two opponents by a combined score of 106-70 in the second half. A concept that the Nets had failed to grasp for over 20 games so far, Brooklyn was able to put teams away and to counterbalance their opponents’ momentum with large scoring runs of their own. Even with a roster depleted by injuries, they were able to lean on their star players when they needed a basket and allowed their reserves to put each game out of reach.

Mason Plumlee tallied 18 points in the win on Friday while Cory Jefferson and Alan Anderson each logged 28 minutes off the bench to prevent the Nets’ lack of depth to cause another late meltdown at the hands of the Sixers. Plumlee logged a double-double in both games and has relished in his handful of starts in the past week with Kevin Garnett resting Saturday night and Brook Lopez still dealing with a back injury. We’ve seen this strong play from Plumlee before when KG is absent. Nets fans are expecting it to continue even when he returns to the starting lineup. He has been a force on the glass this past week, picking up the slack in the paint while remaining active on both ends of the court. Here’s to hoping he’s shaken off the rust from his busy summer and slow start to his sophomore season in the NBA.

Joe Johnson returned on Saturday night after missing a week with a lingering illness and wasted no time getting back into the swing of things with a strong first quarter. He finished with 22 points on the night as the game started to get out of hand in the second half. A night earlier, the Sixers hung around for a majority of the second half but eventually the Nets were able to close them out, as they should. Brooklyn, with a glaring discrepancy in the height department against Charlotte, trotted out a starting lineup that featured rookie Cory Jefferson and sophomore’s Mason Plumlee and Sergey Karasev.

The smaller lineup was able to build a large lead on the backs of outstanding shooting performance from long distance, raining 16 threes in the ballgame. Brooklyn also outrebounded Charlotte 43-34 even with their two most prominent big men missing in Garnett and Lopez. It was a strong performance all-around and hopefully this is signs for things to come when the Nets get Teletovic, Lopez and KG out of street clothes and back in the lineup.

Another interesting storyline from the game on Saturday was the rumors swirling around the league that Lance Stephenson was looking to be traded and the Hornets were willing to part ways with their offseason acquisition after nearly 25 games played. Earlier in the week, Stephenson stated that he would like to play for his hometown Nets at some point in his career and sparked numerous reports that “Born Ready” could be landing in Brooklyn.

The Nets must be willing to come to terms with rebuilding mode if they happen to make a trade for Stephenson, who becomes eligible to be traded today. Trading one of their stars would lower their cap number but could have a major impact on team chemistry, that Lionel Hollins has frantically tried to figure out, using a plethora of lineup combinations in the young season. Stephenson has become a “lightning rod” around the league and his on the court actions have been well documented throughout his young career. Although he could be a shot of life for this older squad, will he be able to harbor potential tensions with his coaching staff and management or simply want out of Brooklyn when the future of the franchise remains murky.

Coincidentally, these rumors unfolded just days after the Nets were reported to being open to trading their stars Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Jo if an offer presented itself. King stated on Friday that they would certainly listen to offers but had no intention of a “fire sale”. For now, there are 60 games left in the season and the Nets have plenty of time to string together victories to climb the standings in an extremely top heavy Eastern Conference that currently contains five teams with winning records. We’ve seen the team play at their potential in spurts this year but they must preserve that momentum and acquire a newfound taste for winning.

On an unfortunate and heartbreaking side note, we would like conclude this recap by extending our condolences to the friends and family of the Nets’ Superfan, Jeffrey Vanchiro, better known as “Gamblero“, who tragically passed away on Sunday night. The effects of his death sent shockwaves throughout the Nets community throughout the night, as fans paid tribute to their fellow Nets fanatic over social media. Rest in peace, you will be severely missed at the Barclays Center.