Tough Upcoming Schedule Will Test The Brooklyn Nets

By John J. Paolantonio
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have been on a bit of a honeymoon since new interim coach PJ Carlesimo took over and their schedule has definitely helped with the recent 7-1 stretch.  The Nets have played sub-.500 teams to a perfect 13-0 record to date and are winning the games they are supposed to win.

Some people call the first few weeks success after a coaching change, a “coaching bump,” and there may be something to that philosophy.  Players may feel they have a new slate with the new coach and play harder and more freely knowing they are auditioning for playing time with the new coach.

The Nets certainly could be going through this scenario right and it shows in the recent results as a team.  They have focused on running a bit more, pushing the ball up-court to catch teams sleeping and also giving themselves more time on the shot clock to run their offense.

The Nets are averaging 8.4 points more per game than the Avery Johnson led season average of 94.5 and scoring 102.9 points per game under Carlesimo.  They are also shooting better from the field at 46.6 percent, which is up from the previous 43.8 percent under Johnson.

Deron Williams’ play has been a major factor in the turnaround of the Nets and in his last four games he is averaging 20 points, eight assists and four rebounds on a solid  51.7 percent shooting. His 3-point shooting has also come back and is shooting 50.3 percent from long range in those games.  These numbers are drastically different from the first 28 games under Johnson when he was under 40 percent.

“Our system hasn’t changed much, our defensive principles haven’t really changed much,” Williams said. “It’s just how we practice and how we prepare is just a different style.”

Carlesimo sees the difference in Williams and knows the rest of his team seems to feed off of their leader:

“I just think he’s playing well, and again so much of it is the balance. … Joe Johnson and him are in so much of a better place when these other guys play the way they play, because they’re not doubled and guys aren’t hanging on them. Even when they see the doubles, it’s different. I just think guys are benefiting from how well the team is playing.”

In the last four games, against all sub-.500 teams, the Nets have scored at least 100 points and have only allowed its opponents to break 100 points once and that was a double overtime win over the Washington Wizards 115-113.

Since the Nets went into Oklahoma City and stunned the Thunder 113-93, they have dismantled teams and also made history in the process.  They have beaten four straight teams by 20 points or more and that is the first time that has been done in franchise history as an NBA team.  The Nets accomplished this feat another time although it was in the ABA days of 1975.

The schedule will get tougher starting today when they host the red-hot Indiana Pacers at the Barclays Center followed by games against the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzles and Houston Rockets.

The next 10 games will tell the story about whether their recent success is due to the “coaching bump” or if they have really turned a corner under Carlesimo as eight out the next ten games are against above .500 teams.

John Paolantonio is a Featured Columnist for, covering the Brooklyn Nets. Follow John on twitter @pingshoops and like his page on FaceBook

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