Nets optimistic about playoffs

Injuries to key players can not be prevented in practically any sport.

The New York Knicks lost Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert, for several games, and could not only rely on one or two players including Carmelo Anthony. Head Coach Mike Woodson tried his best, but the end result came not too long ago shortly after the regular season ended. Thus the ‘second season’ better known as the playoffs started with the search for a new head coach and coaching staff began.

With the Knicks disappointing everyone, all the attention has been focused on the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets’ biggest setback came when all-star center Brook Lopez had ankle problems and missed most of the season. They had to fill the hole in the pivot position. And at other times they, too, missed some key players, besides their starting center, to go along with Lopez.

Many fans and even those people connected with the sport in various capacities doubted that a first-year head coach could do the needed job. However, this man, who was a player in the National Basketball Association proved to be the right choice and at press time the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors are deadlocked at a game each in the first round of the playoffs.

His name is former all-star guard, Jason Kidd, who certainly deserved to be named NBA Coach-of-the-Year, even though his team played under .500 ball for most of the season and pulled above the .500 mark on March 5. And they put on a good finish during the last month of the season. During the course of the schedule, the Nets put together a 15-game home winning streak.

Their reasons for their success and of landing a playoff position have been their depth, mixing veterans with youngsters and rookies, and playing tremendous basketball.

The signing of Kidd during the last off season and the addition of two new players who possessed playoff experience in forwards Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and the signing of 7-0 center Jason Collins, who, in fact, played with the Nets, to fill a void at center certainly contributed to the emergence of winning basketball team in New York City.

“Pierce and Garnett have a lot of experience,” said Coach Kidd. “They have to share their experience with their

Pierce can really put the ball into the hole, and piled up numerous offensive statistics during the season, his first one in Brooklyn. The 15- year veteran in the NBA is a competitor and is one of five players with 10 or more years with professional hoop experience on the Nets’ roster.

“He loves the competition and the game of basketball,” Kidd added. “We have two guys (the other is) KG (Kevin Garnett) who are solid. They are unselfish and care about the team.”

Kidd hopes that they continue the same way during the playoffs and that there is no let down.

And one can not count out starters Joe Johnson, a 6-7 guard, and Deron Williams, a 6-3 backcourt man as well, either. These two veterans are among the best in the National Basketball Association. They are both excellent players and certainly demonstrated their skill on the court this season. Johnson is a competitor and, is all about team, according to Kidd, who added, “it’s nice to have a player like him.” He certainly delivered for the Nets all season.

The City of New York certainly wants a winner, management and even the players did say that they want a NBA championship team in Brooklyn this spring and it is still possible at this writing.

“Their experience has been great and we have a great group of (players),” Kidd went on. “And I try to respect them, As a first year rookie coach I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys. I’m very excited about the playoffs.”

Competing in the playoffs and the chance to be the top team in the league are what any team plays for during the regular 8- game schedule. Now the Nets have this opportunity.

More from Around NYC