18 years ago today, the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, clinched their first-ever NBA Finals appearance after taking down the Boston Celtics.
In the summer of 2001, the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, made a trade that would forever change their franchise. They made a deal to acquire Jason Kidd, who many consider as one of the greatest point guards to ever step onto an NBA floor.
When the Nets made that trade, they were considered a huge laughing stock of the league as they were coming off a season that saw them go 26-56. However, with Kidd in the fold, they doubled that win total the following season, as they finished an Eastern Conference-best 52-30; good for one of the greatest single-season turnarounds in NBA history.
New Jersey got a scare from the Indiana Pacers in the first round, handled the Charlotte Hornets with relative ease but were also pushed to six games by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Nets were so close to experiencing a trip to the NBA Finals, but there was one tall task standing in their way.
The Nets came into Boston with a 3-2 lead, and as history suggests, it is not easy for a team to come away victorious at TD Garden; especially in a playoff atmosphere. That proved to be the case in the first half, as the Nets trailed the Celtics by 10 at half-time.
However, New Jersey came out a completely new team in the second half, as their stingy defense limited the Celtics to just 34 points. The Nets also put up back-to-back 26 point quarters to finish the game, and ultimately seal the deal for their first-ever trip to the NBA Finals.
Kidd came away with a triple-double that game with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists. Kenyon Martin chipped in a well-rounded effort of his own, as he finished with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Unfortunately, the Nets would end up getting swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, but all things considered, this team shouldn’t have even gotten to that point so soon.
Because of Kidd’s well-rounded efforts out there on the court and how he turned this team around, he ended up second to Tim Duncan in the MVP race, but there was a crowd out there that believed that Kidd should’ve won it due to him turning a team around like that.