It wasn’t the best week for Brooklyn. First, this column’s favorite big man, Brook Lopez, was the recipient of the biggest All-Star snub in history, when the coaches selected the heat’s Chris Bosh in his stead. Lopez deserves to be there on his own merit — and not just because Rajon Rondo has pulled a muscle.
Secondly, for the first time since P.J. Carlesimo took over as head coach, the Nets lost back-to-back games this week, falling at Memphis and at Houston. Despite all of this, there is no cause for concern.
The team rebounds nicely, as a good frontcourt should, easily handling the Orlando Magic as it has commonly done to all sub .500 teams this season. But the losses to the Memphis Grizzles and Houston Rockets raise the same question that has often reared its ugly head throughout the course of this season: can the Nets beat the NBA’s best? The answer: well, kind of.
There’s no question that the Nets are capable of beating good teams. Our frontcourt has beat the division-leading Knicks twice, the Thunder in Oklahoma City, and outplayed the Clippers, Pacers, and Hawks. Beyond that? It’s bottom-feeder dominance. Of course, schedule-making is not within the Nets’ control. Our boys play whomever shows up.
Hype surrounded Wednesday’s matchup against Miami, but the Heat are notoriously weak on the glass. Against Chicago, Lopez, Humphries, and Evans should have their hands full with center Joakim Noah and power-forward Carlos Boozer. It’s a chance for Lopez to show he should have been picked over Noah for the All-Star Game, and an opportunity for the big guys to show they can dominate the offensive boards against stiff competition, kicking rebounds out into the hands of the much improved Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Beating one of the top dogs in the East would certainly ensure that this week would be better than the last for the Brooklyn Nets.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.
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