After losing by 44 points, not a lot expected this kind of dominance from the Brooklyn Nets, as they soared against the Denver Nuggets with a 112-89 win, showing that being old only means they know which games to turn it up for.
And in hindsight, their loss to the Blazers was exactly that. The game got away from them early, and back to back nights on the road are never easy for veteran teams. Everyone got their rest, and looked like a completely different team with only 24 hours of difference, while Denver were a complete and utter mess, as you might expect from a group that is missing the three point guards they began the season with.
The Nets ran away with the game in the first quarter, winning it 29-8. Yes, the Nets kept the Nuggets on only 8 points in the first quarter. It wasn’t just defense, which wasn’t anything special. The Nuggets looked abysmal, with the lowest scoring output of any NBA team in a first quarter this season. Missing dunks and easy shots from a few feet away, while Brian Shaw finding it difficult to believe what he’s actually seeing.
Paul Pierce led the scoring with 18 points, while Joe Johnson, Mason Plumlee and Marcus Thornton each had 10 points. There were no one on one attempts, no individual basketball. The ball moved well all the time, with everyone getting involved on almost every possession. Shaun Livingston finished the game with 8 points and 8 assists, making it a nightmare for anyone he was guarding throughout.
The Nuggets turned the ball over 24 times and scored only three points on the fast break. They were only 37.5% from the field, and looked like a team from a completely different planet compared to where they were at this point last season, when George Karl was running the show. A lot of things happened over this year that have nothing to do with Shaw, but when you consider the Nuggets always made the playoffs with Karl in charge, some fingers have to be pointed at the head coach who tried changing too much too fast.
The Nets have looked like two completely different teams with only 24 hours in separation, but veterans can afford that. Maybe the biggest thing Kidd got out of this back-to-back was not having to play his starters more than 25 minutes for a second consecutive nights, as most of the guys in his lineup could use every single second of rest they can get.
The Nets are no longer the hottest team in the NBA, but being around .500 from now on till the end of the season is enough to keep their place in the East. From there, a lot of hope is involved. The Nets do have minutes of very good defense and smart offense, but they can’t seem to keep it up for too long. Their players, especially guys like Garnett, Pierce and Williams, aren’t able to play long nights at a high level.
And in the playoffs, that might be a bit too much to deal with. The Nets were built as some desperate, lavish attempt to win an NBA championship by paying good players like superstars. Even in the East, their depth is probably not enough, as their age is a bit too much. But considering how badly they did out of the gate when this season began, they’re not in a bad spot right now, and seem to be enjoying the transformation.