Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
P.J. Carlesimo is off to a 3-1 start as interim head coach of the Nets, including an improbable win against the NBA’s top team in the Oklahoma City Thunder. He’ll look to make it 4-1 tonight when the Nets visit the Washington Wizards.
For Carlesimo, the win might have been a bit sweeter, since he was the first coach in the Thunder’s history. However, his tenure lasted only 13 games as he was fired after a 1-12 start.
After Wednesday’s win, Carlesimo likened the new-look Nets to the Thunder that first season. The hype surrounding the team was huge, with young players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook eager to break into the league.
Naturally, that year’s start did not turn out how Carlesimo planned, but he’s back as a head coach, and he can use his experience from OKC to help him adjust in his new role.
With much uncertainty still surrounding his position, all Carlesimo can do is prepare his team to win one game at a time. The Nets reportedly covet Phil Jackson, but if Carlesimo wins games, maybe the Brooklyn brass will reconsider.
Through four games, P.J.’s style seems to be leaving its mark on Nets players.
“P.J. is just one those guys who is just fiery,” Deron Williams told Stefan Bondy of the Daily News. “If he’s feeling a certain way, he’s going to tell you.”
Joe Johnson echoed his point guard’s statements and with a little more flavor.
“He’s pretty forward, man,” Johnson told Rod Boone of Newsday. “He just kind of tells you like it is. If you ain’t playing worth a —-, he’ll tell you, you ain’t playing worth a —-. As players, some of us may respond a little different to it, but for me, I can appreciate it.”
This direct approach can be the wake-up call the Nets need to get back on track. However, we’ve still only seen a small sampling from Carlesimo.
Keep in mind that, yes, the Nets defeated the Thunder Wednesday evening, but once again the team blew a huge lead. The Nets were up by 23 points midway through the second quarter, and yet allowed the Thunder right back into the game until the final minutes.
Can Carlesimo magically cure the Nets’ third quarter woes this season? No, that will take a full team effort. But he can certainly motivate his players with his style and experience.
Before taking over, the Nets were 3-10 in December, which isn’t too far away from the 1-12 mark Carlesimo had with the Thunder. It’s a safe bet that P.J. wants nothing more to do with poor starts to a coaching stint.
Despite blowing the huge lead, wins like Wednesday night are bound to keep Carlesimo at the helm in Brooklyn. Tonight, the Nets will try to follow it up in the nation’s capital.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.