In NBA parlance, the first week after the All-Star break marks the beginning of the season’s second half.
That’s always been a bit of a misnomer. Merriam-Webster defines “half” as “one of two equal or nearly equal parts into which something can be divided.”
The Nets had played 51 games heading into the break, losing 27 of them and winning 24. Only 31 games remained on the regular schedule after Sunday’s All-Star game. So much for “equal” or even “nearly equal.”
Instead, what begins this week is a part of the NBA season distinct from what came before it. The playoff chase will soon hang over each game, coloring every win or loss with urgency and import. The moves made at Thursday’s trade deadline will alter the DNA of certain teams, causing playoff-bound squads to try to adapt as quickly as possible to roster changes designed to fortify postseason chances.
And if last year is any barometer, this is also the part of the season where Deron Williams takes over.
Before the All-Star break last year, the Nets’ star point guard, hobbled by an achy ankle, averaged 16.7 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting from the field, including 34.7 percent from three-point range.
D-Will received platelet-rich plasma injections in both ankles as he NBA’s elite headed to All-Star weekend. He then went on a tear out of the break, looking like his old All-Star self in the final 29 games of the regular season with nightly averages of 22.9 points on 48.1 percent shooting, including 42 percent from downtown.
This year, Williams has again been slowed by his balky ankles. He has averaged just 13.3 points and 6.6 assist per game in 30.9 minutes, the least amount of game time he has logged per night since his rookie year.
And once again, D-Will has had platelet-rich plasma injected into his ankles — only this time the treatment took place in early January. Now, after getting some rest over the All-Star break, whether he can again transform from Clark Kent to Superman has yet be seen. Last I checked, there are still a couple phone booths left in Brooklyn.
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.