EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Here is the first win.
Tomorrow night at the Izod Center, with people lined up to get in, the bathroom, the Nets will get their first win and beat the unimpressive Sixers. Even though the Nets practiced with eight guys yesterday, and seven guys today, and probably will only have eight for tomorrow's game, this is their chance to get that win.
A loss tomorrow and the Nets likely will drop to 0-10 -- they're at Orlando and Miami this weekend -- before next week's favorable schedule featuring games against Indiana, Milwaukee and the Knicks.
During the previous two games, the Nets battled and played with the attitude that they're tired of losing. They just didn't make enough plays to pull out the wins against the Sixers and Celtics.
After three days of no games, the Nets should go into tomorrow's game with that same attitude about losing. After two days of halfcourt practice, the players should be fresh, have a better understanding about what they need to do, what positions they will be playing, how they play together and how to beat the Sixers. The Nets lost by three on Friday against the Sixers.
This group, led by Brook Lopez, Rafer Alston, Terrence Williams, Josh Boone, Bobby Simmons and Trenton Hassell, seem to be building a chemistry that the regular team hadn't yet achieved.
"I'm getting more and more used to playing with this group of guys, building chemistry with them," Lopez said.
Part of that is because the Nets -- for the most part -- are playing selfless players who understand their roles and how to be professionals. This is no knock on Devin Harris or Yi Jianlian or Chris Douglas-Roberts or any of those guys who are offensive players first.
But Hassell, Simmons and Eduardo Najera are hard-working players who don't need shots to be effective. The rub is that they need to play extended minutes to be effective, but when everyone is healthy those minutes probably won't be there for them.
Hassell and Simmons especially have been impressive defensively. Simmons doesn't get enough credit for his defensive play. He works hard on that end of the floor. Boone also has been more aggressive the past two games and has complemented Lopez well.
As it said here after the Celtics' loss, this veteran-laden group has now laid out how the Nets need to play as far as effort and defense. When the younger guys return, they have to show that they were watching and are willing to play the same selfless way.
That's what it's going to take for this team to win games at full strength and as grossly undermanned as they are.
"We're working hard," coach Lawrence Frank said. "I think we got a good group of guys. There's a line: adversity really teaches you who you are. You learn more about yourself. We're going through it early in the year.
"Our guys have come in hard to work. Your habits will eventually catch up to you. There have been many times in the history of sports, in the history of our game where teams have been 0-7 and wound up (winning) 40-plus games. The only way you get there is by having good habits every day and things eventually will start going around for you in a positive way."
Winning 40-plus is asking a lot. The Nets just need the first one. It should come tomorrow. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. It won't be the first or last time
Everyone was here except Douglas-Roberts and Simmons. Douglas-Roberts is out tonight, still feeling the effects of H1N1 virus. Simmons flew to Chicago to attend to a personal matter, but the Nets expect him to play tomorrow.
So 13 guys in the house, but only seven went through everything -- Lopez, Alston, Hassell, Terrence Williams, Boone, Najera and Sean Williams.
Courtney Lee tried to shoot and walk-through plays, but his groin tightened up, so expect him to be out tomorrow and to return on Friday. Devin Harris shot, but he's still at least a week away. Keyon Dooling (hip) did some of practice, but he's still a few weeks away. And the list goes on.
In honor of the Yankees beating the Phillies in the World Series, the Nets have a new promotion for the Sixers' game. Show a baseball game ticket stub at the Izod Center Box Office and you will get 50 percent off on any ticket for tomorrow's game.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)