The Brooklyn Nets had been going through a rough stretch of games, losing more games than they were winning and falling behind in an unforgiving Eastern Conference. When Deron Williams, the Nets’ unquestioned leader and most versatile player, was forced to sit out due to injury, it looked as if things would only get worse.
Instead, the Nets have gone on a two game winning streak, pulling out an overtime victory against the Indiana Pacers on Monday and then returning home to put an 11-point beat down on the Denver Nuggets, who have now lost three in a row.
The Nuggets had been the hottest team of the month, but a couple of key injuries have made them stumble heading into the All-Star break. They came into the Barclays Center the winners of eight out of the last ten games against the Nets, but even without Williams on the floor, the Nets meant business.
“When you have one of your key guys out, I think it motivates you to really step up and play a little harder,” Joe Johnson said after the game. “Guys that haven’t played as much tend to come in and play big minutes and be successful”
Williams should be back in the lineup when the NBA returns from All-Star Weekend, and the hope will be that the team can continue their winning ways. The mentality just needs to be carried on. No one should stop playing as hard as they have been just because the best player on the team is back on the floor.
Instead, this is when the other players need to give it their all, so that the team has the best chance of winning possible. After all, isn’t that what you play the game for in the first place?