Brooklyn Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov spent a fortune this offseason to try and compete with the Miami Heat. When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were free agents, Prokhorov tried to bring all of them to New Jersey. When they all signed with Miami, he turned his attention to the trade market and acquired Deron Williams to build a team with Center Brook Lopez.
The two players began to build chemistry but there wasn’t enough talent around them to compete in the Eastern Conference. With the New Jersey Nets moving to Brooklyn, they wanted to make a big splash to help them compete in Year 1. They went out and acquired Joe Johnson, who was forced into a starring role in Atlanta Hawks but was able to just be a role player in Brooklyn. With Lopez, Williams and Johnson, the Nets made the playoffs but were bounced out in round 1 by the Chicago Bulls.
This offseason, Prokhorov broke the bank by going out and acquiring future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce along with sharpshooter Jason Terry and defensive specialist Andrei Kirilenko. The Nets instantly went from mediocre playoff team to a title contender. He also hired former Nets Point Guard Jason Kidd to take over as Head Coach, even though he is just months into retirement as a player.
While on paper the Nets look good, their first real test would be welcoming the defending champion Heat into town on Friday. The Nets controlled most of the game and were able to show off their depth. Nine players played at least 19 minutes and nobody played more than 31. Even with stars Garnett and Williams combining for only 14 points, contributions from Andray Blatche, Kirilenko and Alan Anderson helped make up the difference.
The Nets were able to hold Wade, James and Bosh to just average games and didn’t allow many of the role players to contribute. Only Ray Allen and Mario Chalmers really played a good game and Miami struggles when they can’t get contributions from at least three or four bench players.
The Nets have a better all-around roster than the Miami Heat and this win may give them the confidence to make a run at the title. Even though they almost let Miami come from behind and win, the fact that they were able to hold on and play a full-team game shows that they are ready to compete.