Why Veteran Stars Won't Be Able to Save Brooklyn Nets' Playoff Hopes

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Why Veteran Stars Won't Be Able to Save Brooklyn Nets' Playoff Hopes
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Following a home-court loss to the hapless crosstown rival New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets have lost four of their last five games.

The major offseason acquisitions of star talent such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson have made little difference and it's safe to say that the Nets are a far cry from last year's team that secured the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

While Pierce continues to battle injuries in the latter stages of his career, Johnson and Garnett aren't proving much in his stead.

In the Nets' loss, the two combined to play for 56 minutes, scoring just 19 points on 13-of-33 shooting from the field. In fact, Garnett is struggling through the worst shooting performance of his career thus far—successfully converting only 37.1 percent of his field-goal attempts on the season.

It appears that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Garnett's leadership is invaluable, but games are ultimately won on the court, not in the locker room.

Garnett is averaging just 6.5 points per game—37th-worst among qualifying power forwards around the league. 

The view that the coaching addition of Jason Kidd has somehow crippled Garnett's potential can be discredited by looking at the numbers of reserve power forward Andray Blatche.

Blatche is averaging 10.8 points per game as Garnett's spell. Garnett has started every game he's played in, but eventually production will become an issue.

Pierce is also shooting a career low from the field at just 36.8 percent and ranks 18th among NBA small forward in points per game with just 12.4. 

Even Johnson deserves a mention, as he's experiencing the third-worst shooting season of his 14-year NBA career at 42.7 percent.

Beyond production, however, the age of Garnett and Pierce is displayed by their overall health. Garnett has missed two games already this season with a left adductor strain. Pierce has missed four games and counting with a fractured hand.

To best suit the team, it may be necessary to reduce Garnett's minutes in lieu of younger, higher-producing players such as Blatche and Mason Plumlee. Garnett also needs to get more looks underneath in an effort to gain more trips to the free-throw line. 

The former Boston Celtic has attempted just seven free throws to this point and is on pace for a monumental career low of 30 free-throw attempts this season.

The Eastern Conference is being dominated by the young talent of the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and upstart Washington Wizards. It's a young man's game, and unfortunately for the Nets, they can't keep pace.

 

Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference.com.

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