On Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets were able to keep their impressive home winning streak alive, defeating the Houston Rockets 105-96. The victory puts their winning streak at 14 games at the Barclay’s Center, and has helped vault them up the Eastern Conference standings. In the process, they also clinched a playoff victory.
The Nets haven’t lost since Jan. 31 at home, when they were defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since then, the Nets have an impressive list of teams they have beaten, including the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies. Handling business at home has helped the Nets turn their season around.
A reason for the turnaround has been head coach Jason Kidd. In the beginning of the season, everyone jumped in to bash Kidd, as the Nets struggled out of the gate to gain their traction. Things looked to be getting worse when Kevin Garnett was injured, but Kidd has been able to get this team clicking recently without their vocal leader.
A big reason for it has been the small-ball philosophy that Kidd has turned to. Kidd was a witness to the wonders playing a smaller lineup could have last season, while he was a member of the New York Knicks, and he has adopted some of those philosophies and put them into his own game plan.
A catalyst for this has been Paul Pierce. The small forward, who has played small forward predominantly throughout his career, has shifted to the power forward position, and it has caused a renaissance of sorts for him and the Nets. Having Pierce operating from the four has opened the court up, creating easy scoring opportunities for the wings to take advantage of from the perimeter or attacking the basket.
One player who has benefited tremendously has been Joe Johnson. Since moving to the three, he has shot the ball efficiently. Through the month of March, Johnson shot the ball 49.8 percent from the field and 44.3 from beyond the arc. Tonight against the Rockets, he poured in a game-high 32 points on 13-of-21 from the field, and 4-for-8 from the three-point line.
The two-point-guard lineup, which the Knicks used successfully last season with Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni, is something Kidd has used masterfully with the Nets. Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston are good combination together, as both possess good size and are interchangeable as the lead man or off ball guard. Tonight the two combined for 29 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and only two turnovers.
The Nets have begun clicking at the right time, as they are as ready as ever to play a postseason series. As the playoffs loom, the Nets continue to come together at the right time, and getting Garnett back in the lineup will only help them as well. If they are able to jump the Bulls or Toronto Raptors in the standings, it will go a long way to their success in the playoffs. If they are able to secure home court for any amount of rounds, they will have to be favored in those series.