If it wasn’t for their in-state rivals in the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets would take the cake when it comes to biggest disappointment in the NBA so far this season. Ownership and general manager Billy King went all in to try and win a championship within the next two years when they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade. But so far it has not worked out the way anyone has planned. New head coach Jason Kidd has had a slow start in getting the team on the same page and the injury bug has hit them hard.
They are without Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, and they were without this duo again tonight, but were able to escape with a victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors 102-100. With that win, the Nets improved to 4-10 on the season and still have a long ways to go to climb back up in the standings. The key to tonight’s victory was the play of Andray Blatche, who started in place of Lopez at the center position.
Blatche played 32 minutes and led the Nets in scoring with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Lopez is one of the best offensive centers in the game today and it takes a lot to fill his shoes, but Blatche was up to the challenge tonight. The Nets need more performances like that out of Blatche if they are going to climb out of the Atlantic Divison basement.
The truth of the matter is that although this team was built to win now, they have clear flaws. Pierce and Garnett don’t look like the same players, Williams may never be healthy this season and Joe Johnson is pretty limited in this system. So because of this, some of the role players need to do more than expected and Blatche is certainly a big part of that. As long as Lopez is injured, Blatche will continue to get the minutes and his performances will be key for the Nets going forward.