Nets 91, Celtics 110: One step forward, three steps back
We’ve seen this movie before. In what’s likely the most crucial stretch of basketball for the Brooklyn Nets this season, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson and co. won two huge games before getting trampled on their home court by arguably the easiest of all three opponents. Despite 31 points from Lopez, who’s been playing his butt off, Brooklyn lost 110-91 to Boston, losing the season series and dropping to 1.5 games behind the eighth seed.
Outside of Lopez, the Nets shot a combined 20-70 from the field. Deron Williams came a rebound shy of a triple-double, not that it did much good. Brooklyn couldn’t stop Boston all night, but hung in there through two quarters. The Nets offense would completely crumble in the fourth, managing just 17 points and giving up 27 to the Celtics. Four Bostonians finished with 18+ points and Evan Turner notched a triple-double.
Like I said, we’ve seen this movie before.
As important as this game was, it’s almost dumbfounding that the Nets would come out with such a poor effort despite being at home and not playing in the second game of a back-to-back. But then, it’s not really dumbfounding.
It seems whenever Brooklyn shines, it’s only in spurts. If the Nets won this contest, it would be their fourth three-game winning streak of the season. Brooklyn has yet to win four games in a row all year.
This season has been a series of the Nets taking one step forward and tree steps back. But why? Sometimes, the right answer is the simplest one. So, here goes: the Nets aren’t very good. They’ve lost games going big, small, dual point guard, uber athletic, down to the wire, etc. etc. While there are plenty of nuances, one stat seems to sum up this Brooklyn season just about right.
The Nets are 9-24 against teams .500 and up, 20-16 against teams under .500. Brooklyn just isn’t that good of a team, even with all the adjustments in the world being made. The Nets have gone from being an above-average defensive team and brutal offensive team in November and December to being the polar opposite in February and March. They traded an aging no-show in SEGABABA’s for a potent scorer, let loose two freakish youngsters in an effort to play a brand of basketball that didn’t resonate with a 30-and-over rec league and constantly rotated combinations to try and find something that would bring a modicum of consistent success. None of it has worked, and it’s hard to see any of it working in the final 25 days of the regular season.
The Nets have 13 games to go until the clock strikes playoffs. Seven of those games are against teams above .500, but that doesn’t mean making the postseason is an impossible feat for Brooklyn. It’s just difficult to imagine considering that the Nets can string together two and sometimes three victories together, but can’t hold it together long enough to make a substantial impact on the standings.