Coney Island’s Cyclone is not the only roller coaster in Brooklyn as the Nets have proven this year with a season that started with championship expectations that turned into extreme disappointment, but they have put that behind them as well.
Last week I asked the question — are the Nets title contenders again? Well, the USA Today declared the Nets to be “scary underdogs in the NBA playoffs.”
From Sam Amick:
While a sizable gap still exists between the Heat and Pacers and everyone else, it’s nothing like it was just a few months ago. The Nets, who were on pace to become the priciest punchline in NBA history early on, have the fifth best record since Jan. 1 (25-11) and could still earn homecourt advantage in the playoffs (they entered Thursday two games behind the Bulls).
Amick gives credit to Jason Kidd for switching to a smaller lineup with the loss of Brook Lopez and the team’s turnaround on defense where they have gone from 27th in the NBA through December to fifth since January.
I think this is a fair assessment. The Nets are still not in the league of the Heat or the Pacers, despite beating the Heat all three times this season, so they certainly aren’t favorites. However, their turnaround has been so spectacular that they aren’t a typical No. 5 seed (where they currently stand).
Early on they looked old and slow, perhaps relying on Lopez too much. Since January, though, they have become a team that actually resembles the style of their coach. They move the ball well, defend, and don’t rely on any one person to lead the team. In other words, they don’t look like a team that will bow out of the playoffs early.
Beating the Pacers may be out of the question this season, but they could do some damage in the playoffs and upset some teams. Scary underdogs indeed.