Weekly roundup: Eyeing the panic button


When do we worry?
By Brian Faith

Last week the theme for the Brooklyn Nets was consistency. An up and down start had them at a perfectly average 2-2 heading into a Friday-Saturday back-to-back. One week later the consistency issues don’t seem to be the problem. The Nets were consistently and almost eerily awful over their last three games. It’s not quite time to hit the panic button in Brooklyn, but after Wednesday night’s abysmal showing against the Sacramento Kings it is clear that changes will need to be made. A quick scan of the box scores from the last three games reveals some major issues for the Nets:

  • The Washington Wizards big man combo of Nene and the newly-acquired Marcin Gortat combined for 35 points and 20 rebounds last Friday against the Nets. Brad Beal made it rain to the tune of 29 points, and John Wall chipped in 17 while spreading around 14 assists.
  • The next night the Pacers’ big men, Roy Hibbert and David West, combined for 33 points and 19 rebounds. Paul George poured in 24 points, and Lance Stephenson scored 15 points while dishing 7 assists.
  • Finally, on Wednesday, DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson slapped up a combined 24 and 20, while Marcus Thornton came in off the bench to light up the Nets for 24 points. Greivis Vasquez contributed 17 points and 12 assists to the 21-point embarrassment of the Nets.

The same three things happened in all three games. The Nets were dominated by the opposing team’s frontcourt, allowed opposing point guards to orchestrate the offense with ease, and had a wing player go off for 24+ points. I’m not even sure where the Nets should start. It’s as if they’re trying to plug too many holes in a fracturing wall. Coach Jason Kidd will have to really drill down and find the root of these issues before his team ends up flooded first out of home court in the playoffs, and then possibly the playoffs altogether.

One area the coaching staff can focus on is the effort and production after half time. The Nets have been outscored in the third quarter in all five of their losses. In their only two wins versus the Miami Heat and Utah Jazz, the Nets won the third quarter. In close losses to Cleveland, Washington, and Indiana those third quarter margins made all the difference. Not only did the Nets fail to mount any sort of comeback against the Orlando Magic or the Kings, but they couldn’t even tread water and give themselves a chance heading into the fourth. Both games were lopsided blow outs with plenty of garbage time in the last quarter.

Needless to say, Coach Kidd has the first true test of his coaching career. This weekend, the Nets stay on the West Coast for another tough back-to-back at the Phoenix Suns and at the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns have started off a surprising 5-3, while the Clippers will be in the conversation for Best in the West all season long. There is a Grand Canyon-sized chasm between a roster full of new players starting the season a mediocre 4-5, and an old, slow team with a coach in over his head starting 2-7. It’s way too early to call these must-win games, but the Nets will need to show some heart this weekend. If they can weather this early storm, they’ll emerge a better team for going through adversity this early in the season. If they fall flat again though, it will be time to find that panic button.

Christmas Day jerseys
By John Daigle


Oh…Oh god…Oh no…HELP… (Editor’s note: In their defense, this is something I’d wear to the gym if I was trying to convince myself I was any kind of athletic.)
Looking at it longform
By Jeremy Gordon
In retrospect, all the problems the Nets have faced this year were eminently predictable. Kevin Garnett is super old; Deron Williams’ leg is super raw; Joe Johnson’s been a regular Joe for a few seasons; they have too many big name players readjusting to a specific role in too short a time. Everyone is looking for their shot because that’s how they’re used to doing it. Do you think Jason Kidd, with all the vocal intensity of a mime, was going to affect any of that in his first month on the job? Already we’ve had reports of a closed door meeting, which is code for fans to Freak The Hell Out and speculate what they might’ve been talking about. (Kidd’s decibel level? Garnett’s minutes? Billy King’s employment security? What? Or maybe they were just chatting about getting dinner somewhere in the area.)
There are some small, promising signs—Mason Plumlee’s looking like a real player, Brook Lopez has made real defensive strides, and Shaun Livingston might be one of the offseason’s more underrated pickups—and, lest we forget, they did beat the Miami Heat. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s something. Forgive me for taking the glass half-full approach, but following the day-to-day rabble rousing can be a little tiresome considering how much there is to figure out. The 2-5 start is crummy, and yet there are many games and months to figure it out. Let’s pause and think of this as a marathon before passing final judgment.