The Morning Tip-Off: ‘The Nets Responded’

Every weekday morning, Brooklyn’s Finest will scour the interwebs for the best (and worst) of Nets coverage from the previous day (and night).

1. ESPN’s resident Celtics expert, Chris Forsberg, and their resident Nets expert, Mike Mazzeo had a quick back and forth on Friday about the state of each of the franchises in the post-Pierce/Garnett trade era:

Forsberg:Mazz, it’s funny because Celtics fans were a bit torn on the trade at the time. It was just weeks after Doc Rivers bolted for Hollywood and it was clear it was time to embrace rebuilding. But some were worried Pierce and KG would turn Brooklyn into a championship contender and diminish the return on the picks. We all know that things couldn’t have gone worse in Brooklyn, and now Boston fans are maybe more excited about the 2016 unprotected pick than a team that’s already wiggled its way back to the playoffs. How are Nets fans handling the team’s sluggish start while knowing their pick is bound for Boston?

Mazzeo: As you might expect, not well. But who could blame them? The future looks pretty bleak. Change is obviously necessary, but there are no quick fixes. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov and GM Billy King, who is in the final year of his contract, have deservingly drawn the majority of criticism from fans. A 2-10 start to this season certainly hasn’t helped matters, as attendance has dwindled (two recent crowds were a Barclays Center-low 12,000-plus). And fans are already dreading the upcoming draft lottery — assuming their team can’t turn its season around.

As with many of Danny Ainge’s moves, Celtics fans find themselves scratching their heads a bit in the immediate, before (most of the time) warming up to the outcomes. This is an extreme case obviously.

On the Nets side, there is this sense of impending doom around what might happen if the Nets truly are as bad as they began the season and end up ‘winning’ the lottery. But as Zach Lowe repeatedly points out, that pick is gone, no matter if it ends up being #1, #5, or #10. The Nets should not allow concern about the perception of them giving the #1 pick to a division rival that just happens to be a playoff team to impact their decision making now. It’s time to let it go.

2. The two teams squared off in a home and home series on Friday and Sunday, and as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press (via The Middletown Press) puts it:

The Brooklyn Nets were embarrassed and angry, and two nights later were 35 points better.

Brook Lopez had 23 points and 10 rebounds, Jarrett Jack scored 13 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and the Nets beat the Boston Celtics 111-101 on Sunday for a split of a home-and-home series.

After the Celtics won by 25 in Boston, the Nets dominated the second quarter that was pivotal in both games and held on after blowing most of a 22-point lead, their largest of the season.

As indicated, the Celtics embarrassed the Nets on Friday night. Paul Mitchell captured the mood of despair well in his recap. And to the Nets credit, they responded on Sunday night…

3. From SB Nation’s Celtics’ Blog (via Ryan Sharry) on Sunday’s revenge game:

The Celtics came out in the 4th with the same defensive intensity that has made them the best defensive team in the league so far this season, and cut the lead all the way down to four at 90-86 with nine minutes to play. The Nets responded as they did all night, but the Celtics kept fighting. Jae Crowder hit a three with under two minutes to go that could have been an and-1 and would have brought the Celtics to within four with the free throw, but instead Crowder was whistled for an offensive foul.

Pardon the lean to green in that quote right there, but the most important phrase for Nets fans is bolded. ‘The Nets responded’. A cynic might say that it should not have taken that level of embarrassment to motivate the Nets. That may be so, but that fact that they came back on Sunday motivated at all shows you that there is still life with this Nets team.

After the 0-6 start, things started to look bleak quickly. The season seemed like it would be much longer than most Nets fans were prepared for. But, after a frisky trip to the west coast and a couple wins even, the resilience of the Nets has proven to be there. That may not translate to a playoff series for this team. But it may translate to occasional inspired basketball in the long winter months of January and February.

At the least, don’t throw dirt on the Nets quite yet.

See you tomorrow!