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January 16, 2014 / Sports / The Brooklyn Nets / Front Court

Big Ticket at center could be ticket to playoffs

for The Brooklyn Paper

The Big Ticket’s recent performance is worthy of borrowing a line from LL Cool J: “Don’t call it a comeback!”

That is exactly what the Nets want you to believe. But after watching them slog through the first quarter of the season, the recent winning streak sure had the feel of a comeback.

And no one was more instrumental to the Nets’ recent success than Kevin Garnett.

As this column noted earlier in the season, it wasn’t exactly a smooth transition from Boston to Brooklyn for KG. He was shooting poorly, he wasn’t defending with the same intensity and he looked like his age had finally caught up with him.

Now, it appears the fountain of youth must be located along Atlantic Avenue.

Since Brook Lopez went down with a season-ending foot injury, Jason Kidd has been forced to alter his lineup, moving Garnett to the five spot. And though it may not be Garnett’s natural position, the results are undeniable.

Since switching to center, Garnett and the Nets have held opponents to just 90.8 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting. More importantly, the Nets are 5–0 in those games.

It is a similar role to the one Garnett was forced into last year in Boston — one in which he carried an undermanned Celtics team to the playoffs.

However, this year in Brooklyn he has depth on his side.

The Nets just welcomed back Andrei Kirilenko, who missed nearly every game this season with back spasms. Kirilenko may not fill a stat sheet like he used to in Utah, but he still drives opponents crazy, especially on the defensive end of the floor, so he’s a welcome addition to a Garnett-anchored defense.

It is certainly not where anyone thought the Nets would be at this point in the season, but KG is leading the charge, proving that it is still too early to write the Brooklyns off.

Tom Lafe is a 6-foot-5 sports-world insider with a middling high school basketball career who believes the Nets will be driven by the success of the team’s big men.

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