Fans of the Brooklyn Nets have good reason to be nervous right now.
Most likely the majority of the Brooklyn fan base turned in on Wednesday night to watch their new-look-Nets take on the reigning champs, the Miami Heat. The game was at the Barclays Center in front of nearly 18,000 fans and was nationally televised, so the players knew they were going to be the center of the NBA universe. Somehow, only Miami seemed to have understood that.
Looking at the match-up on paper and it looks like an NBA fans dream come true! Names like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh litter the Miami side of the court, while Brooklyn counters with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez. The lineups look like they would provide a terrific game between two star-studded teams on their way to the top of the Eastern Conference Finals, but as it played out on the floor, it was clear to anyone paying attention that the Heat were on another level from the upstart Nets.
For the Brooklyn faithful, this game is a true eye-opener.
As an up and coming team in the Eastern Conference, the Nets need to be at least appear competitive against the best team in the East. The pre-season declarations of being a Championship caliber team all sound great, but they look impressive when they are backed up with action on the court. What the fans saw, instead, was a team that appeared to roll over, and play dead.
The Nets lost by 20 points, but it appeared even worse when you watched them play. Wallace disappeared, Williams was a non-factor, Johnson couldn’t find the bottom of the net, and the game was over well before the clock reached zeroes in the fourth quarter.
The one shining light was Brook Lopez, who was added to the All-Star roster following the injury to Rajon Rondo. He put up 21 points and was active in every other area of the game, continuing to show why he deserved to be named an All Star all along.
There is still plenty of season left to play, and these two teams will undoubtedly meet up again in the near future. When they do, the Nets need to play like the hungry team in search of the title. They need to rise to the challenge of playing against the best of the best, and find a way to grind it out.
The Nets have had an extreme makeover since last season, but no amount of cosmetic changes can change a team’s personality on the floor. The players need to figure that one out for themselves, and they will need to do it before these two teams battle it out again.
Jeff Everette is a Featured Columnist for RantSports.com, covering the NFL and NBA. Follow Jeff on twitter @jeverettesports, like his page on FaceBook, or add his Google + to your circles for all of his latest articles, thoughts, and rants.