The Brooklyn Nets players’ legs must feel like rubber right now after two straight overtime games in two days. The Nets managed to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 107-104, and then they turned around to take on the New Orleans Pelicans the next day. The Nets built a 22-point lead only to fall on their faces in the third quarter as the Pelicans seized control of the game by stealing the momentum.
Maybe it was tired legs or maybe the Pelicans were a better team last night. The Nets know how to build a lead; their problem has been putting teams away. Not to make any excuses, but without Marcus Thornton, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets were thin at key bench positions. In order to stop a team’s comeback you have to have willing bench players who can either clamp down on defense or match the opposition basket for basket. The Nets were not able to do either.
The Thornton injury does not seem to be a big concern, but the Garnett and Kirilenko injuries will have them both miss a few more games. The glaring weakness for the Nets is rebounding and interior defense. This is where Garnett is missed the most. He may not be the most intimidating defensive player in the NBA, but he can still cause a little havoc. The Nets made the wrong decision in signing Jason Collins because they needed a stronger inside presence than what he can give them.
Garnett has the size to play center, but he does not have the mobility to play with the centers of today. Mason Plumlee has the mobility but not quite the experience and intensity that Garnett has. If Brook Lopez was still healthy his offense would be great for the team, but he also lacked adequate defense and rebounding skills. The Nets have the heart to contend; now they just need the bodies and fresh legs.