The Nets faced adversity in their still young beginnings in Brooklyn; they had a new coach fresh off of retirement and a completely retooled team without an identity. The lack of consistency was a trademark for the start of the season, but all of that has faded away as the team has now found themselves, and with no time to spare, in the thick of the playoff race.
The team is fluctuating between the fourth, fifth and sixth place spots so their exact positioning this year is yet to be determined. But despite uncertainty, the Nets needn’t worry too much. Most likely the Nets will face the Chicago Bulls, a fierce team led by Joakim Noah, but one they match up with well. The teams met three times in the regular season, with the Bulls taking the series edge 2-1, routing the Nets in both of those victories.
“I think that young players like Mason Plumlee will help the Nets in any first round series,” said Ramapo junior Arseniy Leontyev, who considers himself an all around basketball fan. “Especially as the playoffs go on, young legs become vital for success.”
However, the Nets have an admirable balance of veteran talent and young legs that might be enough to put them over the top if they face the Bulls in the post-season. This would be a heated playoff rematch as the competitors forced a game seven in the first round last year adding intrigue to an already promising matchup.
If the Nets should fall off towards the end of the season they will meet with Toronto, one of the biggest surprise success stories in the NBA this season. The Raptors are athletic, fast and tenacious with the ability to get up and down the floor in a way that puts the half-court offense of the Nets at a disadvantage. The hopes of making it into the second round are lessened should the team fall in the standings and give up the coveted fourth or fifth place spot ensuring a series against Chicago.
The Nets have to put a lot of trust in their grizzled veterans, as well as their shooting touch, to stay above water against a Chicago or a Toronto team that are both physically looming and have a more prevalent inside defense. Deron Williams is key to the Net’s success because if he is unable to facilitate floor spreading and opening up sharp shooters on the wings, the Nets will have little chance due in part to meek physical stature and few answers on the break.
“If the Nets are going anywhere this year, they will need Deron to play at his top level,” Leontyev said.
This Brooklyn team has shown hints of greatness despite a rocky start, and now, as they vie for ideal playoff position, fans have to wonder if the team can sustain enough consistency to fend off physical teams or wait and see if their Nets will be smothered on the boards and inside the paint on the offense end, ensuring an early playoff exit.