Dennis V. from the excellent and active NetsDaily and I exchanged emails in advance of tonight's tilt at Target Center. (Aside: their pessimism and gallows humor reminds me of recent years at Canis Hoopus. Tough days in Brooklyn. Losing sucks).
Here's what he told me about the disappointing Nets:
Who is going to be unavailable for you guys? Seems like every night this or that guy is out with an injury.
For basically the entire early part of this season, the Nets haven't been healthy. While injuries are a part of the game for every team in the NBA, the hits on the Nets have been to main pieces that will/should/"please, basketball gods, let it be more will and not should" lead to the Nets' success this season. Deron Williams missed most of the preseason. Brook Lopez, probably the Nets' most important player on the court, has been sidelined recently with a sprained ankle. Unfortunately, the reports on his injury are like a mystery novel and we don't have any idea when he'll be back. Andrei Kirilenko, who is the team's best overall defender because of the ground he can cover and his length has only played four games with back spasms slowing him down. I'm sure there might be some pleasure in this for you T-Wolves fans, but I'm crying over here! This trio are likely to be out tonight much to my dismay.
Obviously not the start you all were hoping for: how much have expectations changed after the first 11 games of the season?
It's changed a ton. In Nets Nation, some of us convinced ourselves that this team was championship-caliber and would make it as far as the NBA Finals and taking back home the Larry O'Brien trophy. When you look at the personnel from a point of view that they will maximize their potential and build chemistry easily, as well as how great everyone's skill set and role just fits, it's understandable why some would think that way. However, this disappointing start has to have discouraged even those people. Players such as Kevin Garnett haven't performed well at all. Andray Blatche is falling in love too much with taking 15-18 foot jumpers. Mason Plumlee (a pleasant surprise along with Shaun Livingston) has emerged as a rotation player when many thought he'd be down with the Springfield Armor by now getting reps. All the Nets need is one win and go from there. I think we all understand that this is going to be a very slow process.
Is there an obvious culprit here? Player(s)? Schemes? Age? Injury? Where are you guys with this team now. It has to be disappointing.
Without question, the aforementioned basketball gods are punishing the Nets and its fans because of hubris! In all seriousness, it's mostly injury. When a team is trying to build chemistry, it's essential that the main cogs of said chemistry are actually on the floor together. That hasn't really happened here. Another part of it is trying to figure out what rotations work best, especially because the Nets are missing players. And when those players come back, then you have to tinker with rotations again! It's a tough process for new head coach Jason Kidd, who hasn't really had all the pieces he needs to do well. That said, his inexperience surely factors into this slow start. There have been calls for his firing by fans, but I wouldn't go that far. The process needs to be fair (which it almost never is) and Kidd needs to have all of his players healthy and see how he does for a long stretch of this season before saying anything definitive about how good he is. It's a small sample size thus far, but he certainly has fault here thus far.
How do you see the game playing out? How do the Nets get a win?
I'll say off the bat that the Nets won't get the win. Am I conforming with all of the depressed and extremely pessimistic feelings of some Nets fans? Nope. I'm being realistic. The T-Wolves can run. They can rebound. And unless some miracle happens where Bropez steps on the court and the team slows the pace down by constantly feeding him in the box for buckets or his passing out to open shooters that are not missing from three-point land, I just can' see how the Nets win. The T-Wolves are a really good this season and have a lot of potential.
I just want to hide now.