Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
With Monday’s win over the Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets hit the official halfway point in their inaugural season.
The team sits at 25-16—nine games over the .500 mark—and just one game behind the Knicks for the lead in the Atlantic Division.
Brooklyn began the season with an 11-4 mark in the month of November. December didn’t exactly bring the team any holiday cheer as it struggled to a 5-11 record.
Following the coaching change from Avery Johnson to P.J. Carlesimo in late December, the Nets have gone on an 8-1 run to start the new year and are 11-2 overall under Carlesimo.
What these records suggest is that while the team is certainly playing well, it has also been quite streaky in its first season in Brooklyn.
Everything appears to be going great during the hot streaks, but one bad loss could then start a downward spiral.
Since Carlesimo took over however, the consistency of the Nets has improved greatly. Win or lose, the team gives maximum effort, and so far that has resulted in wins.
Maybe the team just needed a fresh start after playing .500 basketball (14-14) under Avery Johnson. Timing is everything of course, and the timing of the switch—though surprising to some—actually could not have been better.
Who knows what sort of hole the Nets would have dug themselves had Johnson still been charge? Instead of competing for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, the team might have been fighting to stay at the .500 mark, hovering around the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Now at the halfway point, the Nets cannot become complacent. Even with the recent success, can the team really defeat the Knicks in a playoff series? Or what about the Heat or a healthy Pacers team? And certainly don’t count out the Hawks or Celtics giving the Nets fits in the postseason.
The team has a tough three-game road trip coming up. Brooklyn meets the Timberwolves Wednesday after blowing a 22-point lead to Minnesota in the second game of the season. The Grizzlies are playing great basketball and will be on the schedule for Friday, and the Nets will then play the second of a back-to-back in Houston against the Rockets.
Last time, it was a streak at home that started the poor month of December. As January comes to a close, the Nets cannot afford a road cold streak, which would negate the positive progress they’ve made.
In the bigger picture, the Eastern Conference is really up for grabs, and the Nets have placed themselves in a great position at the halfway mark.
Now it’s a matter of maintaining that success as the second half begins.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.