|Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves|
|Jason Kidd, above, will turn 34 this season, but is still one of the best point guards in the NBA.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
Remember these guys? When I see the Nets, all I hear is “the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history is complete!” You remember, when the C’s beat the Nets in Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, coming back from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit. (There’s better vids on YouTube, but they’re in five parts) Antoine Walker gave a resounding speech before the quarter, then the C’s blew out the Nets in by a 40-16 score in the fourth quarter to take a 2-1 series lead. It’s a nice thought, but it’s so far in the past. After that great comeback, the Celtics have not won a playoff game against New Jersey since (0-7). This season, the Nets will probably be the best competition in the Atlantic for the Celtics, and these two teams may meet again in the 2008 playoffs.
Nets 2006-2007 Team Review
2006-07 Record: 41-41 (2nd place, 6 games back in Atlantic Division)
2007 Playoffs: Won in 1st Round, 4-2 vs. Toronto Raptors; Lost in 2nd Round, 4-2 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
What went right: The Nets had a nice run to get into the playoffs at the end of the season, going on a 12-3 run in the last 15 games of the regular season. They used some of that momentum to get past favored first-round opponent, Toronto. Veteran point guard Jason Kidd had another stellar year, averaging 13.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. Vince Carter played in all 82 games, averaging 25.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. Center Mikki Moore shocked a lot of people with his surprising season, scoring 9.8 points per game and leading the NBA with a .609 field goal percentage. 26-year-old center Nenad Krstic had a surprisingly good season with 16.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game…
What went wrong: …and that’s when his and the Nets’ season took a turn for the worse. Krstic tore his ACL in December and missed the rest of the season, playing only in 26 games. Small forward Richard Jefferson missed a significant amount of time with an ankle injury, getting in only 55 games. When mostly healthy by the end of this season, the Nets went on a roll and performed well in the playoffs, too. The key is, however, is that the Nets have had some injury trouble over the last few seasons.
2006-07 Season Grade: B
Nets 2007 Off-season Team Review
Key Additions: C Sean Williams, C Jamaal Magloire
Key Losses: FC Clifford Robinson, FC Mikki Moore
Reaction: The Nets have had a relatively quiet off-season. They resigned Vince Carter, which was obviously very important and their No. 1 priority. They replaced Clifford Robinson and Mikki Moore by signing veteran big man Jamaal Magloire and drafting Boston College center Sean Williams. The Nets were lacking in size last season, especially when Krstic went down, so both are good personnel moves. They lost out in the James Posey sweepstakes to the C’s, but are rumored to be looking at retired guard Allan Houston. There have been reports that the two are in talks, so if that signing does occur my offseason grade for them changes. For now, there hasn’t been any dumb moves, but nothing spectacular.
Off-Season Grade: B
Nets 2007-08 Season Preview vs. Celtics
Boston @ New Jersey, Nov. 10
New Jersey @ Boston, Nov. 14
Boston @ New Jersey, Jan. 11
New Jersey @ Boston, April 16
How the projected starting lineups stack up:
(“x” marks which team has the edge)
|C||x||Kendrick Perkins||Jason Collins|
|PF||x||Kevin Garnett||Nenad Krstic|
|SF||x||Paul Pierce||Richard Jefferson|
|SG||Ray Allen||Vince Carter||x|
|PG||Rajon Rondo||Jason Kidd||x|
The Edge: There’s some interesting match-ups here. The Nets are the only team in the division that may give the C’s trouble at the shooting guard position. Vince is younger and has better legs than Ray Allen, but both are different players. Allen jacks up threes, and Vince has a tremendous high-flying style as he slashes to the hoop. The Nets also get the nod at point guard, with Kidd obviously the pick over Rondo. Kendrick Perkins is basically the same type of player as Jason Collins, but he’s just better overall in the physical aspects down low. If Krstic moves to center, he’s probably gets the nod over Perk. Again, here are two different players with different styles. Perk bangs the boards down low, and Krstic is more of a European center, which means that he runs the floor more and is more apt to take an jumper then go for a slam dunk.
Outlook: The Nets will be in the division race for the entire season, and it could come down to the last few games of the season (Nets vs. Celtics on the final day of the NBA regular season). If the trio of Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson can stay healthy, we’re looking at an interesting match-up against the C’s Big Three. If role players Krstic and Magloire have good years, this could be a very tough team to beat.
Final Prediction: 1st/2nd, Atlantic Division.