The Nets continue to defy the odds.
Odds were that, following last summer’s painful first-round exit to the severely depleted Chicago Bulls, the team’s blockbuster trade that brought in cagey veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would allow the Nets to rival the Heat and the Pacers for the chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
It has been well documented that odds-makers — and the rest of us — missed the mark on that prediction. Through the 2013 portion of the season, the Nets stood at 10–21, good for one of the five worst records in the NBA at that point.
Bookies took notice, and the line on the Nets winning the title fell to 100–1.
In fact, anyone who looked at that team on Jan. 1 — myself included — said, “So much for that experiment. These guys are too old.”
Now it seems that all of us were wrong about this bunch of methodical, defensive-minded veterans.
The Nets have managed to turn it around to the point where they now have 50–1 odds to win the NBA title, the third-best odds of any team in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets stand at 34–31 after Monday’s victory over the Suns, with only four of the 17 remaining games coming against teams with winning records. The team’s 24–10 record since Jan. 1 is the conference’s best, and includes a recent win at Miami without Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko, two of its best frontcourt defenders.
It has been hard for Brooklyn to shake the stink of that opening 10–21 record from the collective perception, but maybe, over the next 17 games, the Nets will be able to get right back to where the team was predicted to start.
And maybe the odds-makers will have been right all along.
Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.