Contenders or Pretenders?
A couple months ago, I reported that with Nets center Brook Lopez going down with a season-ending foot injury, it would be a long shot for the team to contend for a championship let alone make the playoffs. A couple of months later, coach Jason Kidd is not only making a believer out of me, but is making a believer out of many Brooklynites as well. On Sunday night, along with a friend of mine, I ate southern cuisine at a place called Soco on the Myrtle Avenue strip. I had the pleasure to speak to a few local Nets fans to get their take on what they think about this current turnaround the team has done since the All-Star break. There, I had the pleasure of meeting a Brooklyn resident who has been a Nets fan since the days of Dr. J (Julius Erving). He said, “It’s amazing how a first-year coach has seemed to adapt after the crucial loss of Lopez and still has his team playing great basketball. I still believe this current team can compete against the Miami’s and the Indiana’s of the Eastern Conference”. By the way, at Soco’s, their buttermilk fried chicken with a red velvet waffle is truly amazing.
As we go to press, the Nets are near the .500 mark with a record of 28-29. With the Atlantic Division as well as most of the Eastern Conference being so brutal, the Nets still have a shot to not only make the playoffs, but win their division, something the franchise hasn’t done since Jason Kidd was wearing a Nets uniform. Brooklyn is currently 3 games behind the division-leading Toronto Raptors. Since the All-Star break, the Nets have posted a record of 18-8, which is the 5th-best record in the NBA.
What should the Nets do to continue this hot streak you ask? It sure will not be an easy take for coach Kidd and company. With Lopez out, the team does lack size up front and against Miami and Indiana, who have big men such as Greg Oden (Miami) and Roy Hibbert (Indiana), Kidd has to mix and match the big men that he has available. Kevin Garnett (7 feet tall) can be an option, but with his minutes being watched carefully, it’s hard to ask a 37-year-old who has logged in over 54,000 minutes in his career to go and guard the best centers in the East for a seven-game series. Andray Blatche ( 6’-10”) can also be another guy who could get the call. My guy to watch is Jason Collins. Brooklyn has signed Collins to a second 10-day contract and it is very likely the team will keep him for the rest of the season. At 7 feet tall with experience having guarded players like Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan in past NBA Finals, he (Collins) gives Brooklyn size and that toughness the team needs, not to mention Kidd has great trust in him having played alongside him from 2001-2008. It will be an interesting month to see if they have enough in the tank to clinch their second consecutive playoff berth in Brooklyn.
Sports Notes: (Basketball) The Knicks have lost 6 straight games and 12 of their last 16. What else is there to say? (Baseball) 26 days till Opening Day for the Mets and Yankees. Hopefully, it will stop snowing by then. Any questions or comments? E-mail me at Castroeddie714@gmail.com.