The Nets played the defending champion Miami Heat three times last year, and lost all three games.
They also played a combined seven games against the lowly Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers — and won every time.
Now for this year: in its home opener, Brooklyn beat the Heat for the first time in 14 meetings between the two franchises. But that was sandwiched between losses to the Cavs and the Magic, the latter in truly embarrassing fashion.
From a fan’s perspective, beating the league’s elite is more fun than triumphing in the games you are supposed to win. But scooping up low-hanging fruit was key to Brooklyn compiling 49 wins last year, and is the mark of any good team.
Going into the season, it would have been easy to anticipate some struggles for the Boston imports — Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry — as they adjusted to a new environment late in their careers. But except for Garnett making three of 11 shots against the Magic, the trio consistently impressed through the first three contests.
Instead, we’ve witnessed a familiar problem in this fledgling season, one that plagued the Nets last year: The under-performance of BackCourt duo Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. Both played well at various points during the first three games, but have also disappeared for quarters or halves at a time.
Against Orlando, Joe was 1-for-5 from the floor for two points. D-Will was 4-of-12 for nine points, with three turnovers. Against Cleveland, Joe was 3-for-10 from the field, including oh-for-three from beyond the arc. Deron was 2-for-6 from the field for 7 points, with four turnovers.
It is understandably difficult for Williams and Johnson to find ways to contribute at an elite level while accommodating the addition of three out-of-town stars, especially three big personalities that are bound to alter the team’s persona. But they are getting paid the big bucks to figure it out, and the sooner the better.
Matt Spolar is a nearly 6-foot-1 journalist with a middling high school basketball career who is sure the Nets win thanks to team’s top-tier guards.