Yes, you read that correctly. The New Jersey Nets have won five in a row, defeating the Toronto Raptors twice in London, former Knick David Lee and the Golden State Warriors, and eventual Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers. (https://razzandjazzsports.wordpress.com/2011/03/12/nets-overcome-20-point-deficit/ ) For an encore, the Nets defeated Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and the Boston Celtics, the team that coming in had the best record in the Eastern Conference, 88-79, at the Prudential Center Monday in front of a sold out crowd. ( https://razzandjazzsports.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/nets-upset-celtics-88-79/ ) They host the Chicago Bulls tonight, who happen to have the best record in the Eastern Conference now.
I know some of you out there are saying “The Nets just acquired Deron Williams, so that is why they are playing so well.” Williams, the All-Star point guard acquired from the Utah Jazz by the Nets last month, missed two games to head to Dallas for the birth of his son, so they won two of the games without him. “Mental and physical toughness” was Nets head coach Avery Johnson’s answer to the question I asked him about the team’s ability to win games they would have lost a month ago. He added ”For us, to beat a team of this magnitude that’s a big hurdle for us” he said after the win over the Celtics.
Nets center Brook Lopez has carried the offensive load during the winning streak, averaging 25.8 points on 57% shooting from the field, with 7.6 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks. Nets power forward Kris
Humphries has tallied seven-straight double-doubles, averaging 16.8 points and 16.8 rebounds during the winning streak while shooting 57%. Deron Williams has averaged 17.7 points and 12.7 assists, with 2.0 steals in the three games he has played during the winning streak.
Garnett noticed a change in the Nets. “They have been playing well lately, with a lot more energy. D-Will has come over there and given them a winning mentality. It seems to be working for them. Kris has been playing real well.” “Give them credit. They found a way to win” Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo added.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. It’s the team chemistry. We’re getting more comfortable with each other” Nets center Brook Lopez said after the game. Jordan Farmar talked about the impact of Kris Humphries. “He has been (huge) for us all season. We call him lumberjack and he’s the guy who goes to work for us every day. He’s tough, he’s the man on the floor and he makes things happen. He rebounds, he guards the other team’s best player, he’s setting screens, he’s doing all of the little things to help our team be better.”
With Williams, Lopez, and Humphries playing so well, New Jersey Nets fans are dreaming of making the playoffs. A long-shot for this
season, but a definite reality with the talent and balance they have on the current roster, a far cry from the team last season that was
trying to avoid going down in the history books as one of the worst ever. Give credit to the entire Nets organization, from owner Mikhail Prokhorov, to general manager Billy King, to head coach Avery Johnson. Nets are excited about the present and future of the team.