Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — If the Nets have learned nothing else in what has been a roller coaster season thus far, it’s that managing the highs and lows over the course of the season is vitally important.
Two five-game winning streaks and a four-game losing streak in their first 37 games is proof of that. As they head into a home matchup Tuesday evening against the Toronto Raptors having won a season-high six in a row and eight of nine under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo, now seems like a good time to keep those highs and lows in mind.
“The good thing about the league is, the games keep coming,” Carlesimo said at shootaround on Tuesday morning. “More than anything, that keeps you in perspective. It doesn’t matter what happens the next night, tonight, hopefully, we can play well, but it doesn’t matter. You gotta get on the plane and get to Atlanta. Reality comes back at you quick.”
The Raptors’ 14-23 record is misleading given their recent surge. Since a 94-88 home loss to the Nets in which they played just eight players while dealing with key injuries and a suspension, they are 10-4 since.
Landry Fields missed the last meeting while nursing an elbow injury, while Amir Johnson sat while serving a one-game suspension for throwing his mouthpiece at an official. In his last five games, Johnson is averaging 14.6 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Additionally, Jose Calderon is back starting at point guard after those duties had been given to Kyle Lowry for a stretch.
“We were fortunate enough to win in Toronto, but this team is totally different,” Carlesimo said. “First of all, the lineup is different. Jose is back starting at the point, Landry Fields is back, it’s totally different. They’re 10-4 since that night. Can’t play much better than they’ve been playing. If we don’t have focus, if we don’t bring a good game tonight, than we’re in trouble.”
After feasting on sub-.500 teams when Carlesimo first took over, the Nets are in the middle of a stretch of games against winning teams. After a 97-86 home win against the Pacers on Sunday night and Tuesday’s game against the Raptors, they have a home-and-home with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday and Friday before a Martin Luther King Day matchup at the New York Knicks.
The team announced Tuesday morning that Gerald Wallace will miss a second straight game with bruised ribs suffered Friday against the Phoenix Suns, while Andray Blatche is a game-time decision with what the team is calling an illness.
The Nets enter the day in second-place in the Atlantic Division, two games behind the Knicks, and fourth-place in the Eastern Conference, just two and a half games out of first.
Lopez, Humphries trade-eligible
Tuesday marks the first day that Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries are eligible to be traded, meaning everyone on the Nets’ roster is now fair game to be moved with the trade deadline coming on Feb. 21.
Under NBA rules, Lopez and Humphries could not have been traded before Tuesday thanks to the fact they received salary increases of 50 percent or more. Lopez re-signed in the offseason for four years and approximately $61 million, while Humphries came back for two years and $24 million.
Hypothetically, with only one and a half years left on his deal, Humphries represents the bigger trade chip in any potential deal for General Manager Billy King before Feb. 21.
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA