The Nets could be walking into a proverbial buzz saw tomorrow afternoon.
The game against the Celtics would be a difficult one for them to get anyway. The Nets haven’t beaten Boston since February 2007. This was pre-Garnett and Allen. It was during the era of the Nets’ big three, Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter. This also was the last season the Nets would see playoff basketball until who knows when.
But they’re making the trip in the snow to Boston where the Celtics were embarrassed last night against the Cavaliers in a game many of you who had power were able to watch.
Mine went out just before 8:00 p.m. and didn’t come back until 5:00 a.m. this morning so I had to wait until this morning to see what happened to the Celtics and formulate an opinion on what would happen to the Nets.
Maybe the Nets can put up a fight. They have against the Cavaliers, Lakers and these Celtics this season. Call it a hunch, though. The Celtics are coming out tomorrow afternoon looking to dismantle their opponent, which is something the Nets’ coaches probably will tell them to anticipate.
The Celtics were up 13 – at home – against the Cavaliers and lost the game by 20. They were outscored 60-32 in the second half in a message-sending performance by LeBron James and the Cavaliers. That second-half differential is Net-like.
Kevin Garnett is going to be fired up and looking to make sure the Nets have no chance to come back with his defense and intensity. Ray Allen will try and shoot the Nets out of the game and Rajon Rondo will try and control tempo on both ends – this time for 48 minutes.
But here’s what the Nets have going for them. They’re rested and they should be ready.
The Nets last played Tuesday. They didn’t practice Wednesday, had Thursday’s practice cancelled due to the snow and then worked out today before flying up.
If they match the Celtics’ intensity and desire it could be interesting, as the Nets sometimes can make it, but it would be a surprise if they came away with this one.
Coaches and teams never look ahead, but we are. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, Sunday’s game against Washington is one the Nets should be able to get if they play the right way.
That means defend from the beginning, establish Brook Lopez from the beginning and continue to go to home, Devin Harris and Courtney Lee continue to play well and the Nets play an entire game.
The Wizards have lost all their players. They used to be good and this was a season when most predicted they would return to the postseason. But Gilbert Arenas was suspended for the season for the gun incident, Caron Butler was traded to Dallas and Antawn Jamison to Cleveland.
The Wizards’ big three is a thing of the past like the erstwhile Nets' Big Three and Washington didn’t get much in return.
Josh Howard is out for the season. Zydrunas Ilgauskas just completed a buyout with Washington. Al Thornton is playing, but no matter what this is a gettable game for the Nets.
The key will be the Nets’ intensity and passion. They have to do to Washington what we’re guessing Boston is going to do to them. And if they don’t the Nets better remember not to switch the picks with Earl Boykins or make sure they don’t give him any room if it’s a close game at the end.
That was a brutal two-point loss last month that the Nets should remember well and use as motivation Sunday. But they have to get through tomorrow first and if the Celtics put them away early the Nets should look to do the same thing to Washington Sunday.
If they don't beat Washington, you can start penciling them in for the all-time futility mark - if you haven't already.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)