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This has not been the team Nets fans envisioned when they made the big trade this summer for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. They were hopeful that their expensive, deep, and veteran team would be in position to make a serious run in the Eastern Conference. The franchise bet the next several years on that plan, as the Nets are locked into an excessive salary bill for the foreseeable future, and have traded away their draft for the next several years.
So far, unfortunately, they just look old. And slow. Old friend Kevin Garnett has been terrible, and while he's had slow starts before, when it happens at age 37, you have to wonder if he's just finished. Joe Johnson is not nearly the same aggressive scorer he once was, and Paul Pierce, while he will probably be getting calls when he's 50, isn't making shots.
Brook Lopez has been their best player when healthy, but will be missing his fourth game of the season tonight. Even when he's healthy, because of the number of veterans who expect playing time on this squad, he's been shortchanged minutes, which hasn't helped.
Two bright spots for the Nets have been the play of Shaun Livingston, first as a backup and now starting in Williams' absence, who has looked positively springy, has been making shots, and running things well, and rookie Mason Plumlee (yes, a Plumlee) the Nets' first round pick this summer. He's been surprisingly effective around the basket and as an offensive rebounder thus far. It's particularly nice to see Livingston play well given what he's gone through in his career.
Team wide, there has been little to recommend the Nets thus far. They have been poor on both sides of the ball, failing to generate many good shots on offense, slow on defense, and not good on the glass on either end. They do get to the line fairly well themselves, and don't turn it over, but they also foul a lot and don't force many turnovers. They aren't a strong 3 point shooting team, and are being outscored by five points a game.
The Wolves look to bounce back from two straight close losses, and need to get wins where they can find them, with difficult fixtures upcoming. They had a day off to clear their heads, and, you know, hang out with Selena Gomez, so they really need to put their best foot forward. I expect a major bounce back game from Kevin Love after his difficulties on Wednesday against the Clippers.
Kevin Garnett returns to Target Center tonight, perhaps for the last time as a player. I have no doubt he'll get a warm reception. The Wolves have never beaten an opponent for whom Garnett was on the floor; that needs to end tonight.
We'll be back later with a game thread.