Why the Brooklyn Nets' Motley Crew of Stars Can Beat the Heat
They may even have the talent to dethrone the defending champion Miami Heat.
Adding Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to a roster that already featured two former All-Stars in the backcourt has created a lot of hype for the squad, now entering its second season in Brooklyn.
Considering the Nets franchise had registered a playoff drought of five seasons before earning the No. 4 seed in the NBA playoffs a year ago, no team has turned things around faster.
In an effort to continue this turnaround, the Nets made their second most notable move by naming Jason Kidd the head coach. The 19-year-veteran was given the whistle just a year after coming off the bench for the New York Knicks.
In hiring the last player to take them to back-to-back finals appearances, the Nets clearly have another finals trip on their mind.
But are they good enough now to take down the NBA’s best? While the simple answer is no, they do have three factors going for them that make such a daring feat possible.
Here is how the Nets can make this dream come true.
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Terry has a particular love for taking down Miami. Since the one-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year showed off his Larry O'Brien trophy tattoo following the Dallas Mavericks defeat of the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, he has claimed to have the Heat’s number.
Both he and Nets coach Jason Kidd were on the Mavericks squad that toppled the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. ‘We have the formula,’ Terry said, via slamonline.com, ‘Jason Kidd and I are the only ones to crack that code.’”
According to CNN.com’s Lateef Murgin, Jason Terry got that championship-prediction of a tattoo in the offseason before getting his ring, so maybe his abilities to predict the future have some merit.
If indeed he can predict the future one more time, Terry and J-Kidd will strategize to defeat the Heat more effectively than anyone else in the NBA.
Though he finished with the second-worst scoring average of his career in 2012-13 at 10.1 points per game, look for Terry to produce closer to his career 15.7 average in the upcoming season.
Fellow old-timers Pierce and Garnett are nearly guaranteed to start, but 36-year-old Jason Terry is no slouch either. He may be the best answer to give Pierce some much needed in-game time on the bench.
And, of course, he and new head coach Jason Kidd will be giving LeBron James and the Heat their very best effort.
Talent to Mimic the Spurs
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At 37 years old, many question how much Garnett has left in the tank heading into NBA season No. 19.
The same can be said for much of the Nets lineup. Despite talent at every position, there is also concern of age and potential decline at each spot.
The Nets can turn to the Spurs for help with this dilemma, as San Antonio has been highly effective limiting the downfalls of age over the years.
According to a recent article by Bleacher Report Analyst Andrew Kipp:
The acquisition of free agent Andrei Kirilenko and the re-signing of Andray Blatche should allow Garnett and Pierce to play between 20-25 minutes per game throughout the regular season.
The Spurs’ Tim Duncan, who played 30.1 minutes per game in 2012-13 after two consecutive seasons in the high-20s, was able to post over 17 points a game in this reduced action.
If the Nets can get the same from Pierce and Garnett, they will have playoff success to look forward to from their aging veterans.
Duncan saw his minutes increase to 35.0 a game during the postseason, allowing him to up his scoring average to 18.1.
Expect the Nets to do all they can to mimic the Spurs success in managing minutes, and ultimately, in how San Antonio came within a few shots of stripping the Heat of their title.
A healthy and well-rested Garnett can certainly produce at the same level as Duncan.
In-Shape Deron Williams
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Director of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo released the above statement in Februrary of 2013, via ESPN.com.
Entering his third season with the Nets franchise, expectations are again high for Williams, and perhaps as high as they have ever been before.
If Williams can get back to the solid routine laid out here via ihoops.com’s Alan Stein and StrongerTeam.com, he should be able to improve on last year’s 18.9 points and 7.7 assists per game.
Johnson is a ball-handler by nature, and rarely during his tenure with the Hawks did he play alongside someone more equipped to bring the ball up than he.
A year of experience playing together should do wonders for Williams and Johnson, who could finally emerge as the elite backcourt they appear to be on paper in 2013-14.
Now all they need to do is incorporate Pierce, Garnett, Brook Lopez and Andrei Kirilenko, and the Heat should be no problem.
The Heat Are Not Getting Younger Either
Is Shane Battier's commentary career coming sooner rather than later?
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While the Nets have six players in their expected rotation with over 10 years of playing experience and 30 years of age, the Heat are in the exact same boat.
Ray Allen's 17-year career has him still hitting threes in the corner for Miami. Along with Chris "Birdman" Anderson, Shane Battier, Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem, that is five rotational players over the age of 30.
With Chris Bosh and LeBron James getting close to this daunting age mark as well, this Heat team is aging faster than they appear when they hit the floor.
This is a reason for optimism for Nets fans confident in their team this season. The biggest problem, however, is the continued presence of LeBron James.
As long as LeBron remains in South Beach, the Heat will be the best team in the East and the NBA. Garnett's strong defensive skills have the potential to limit him for part of a seven game series, but its doubtful he can do it all alone.
Kirilenko and spurts of Brook Lopez could contain the reigning League MVP as well, but ultimately, there is a reason the Heat were able to take the crown from a Spurs team that outplayed the Heat for the majority of the series.
They are undoubtedly a dominant team, and Nets fans with strong hopes of dethroning them in the East should make sure to temper their expectations.