Nets’ general manager Billy King says he crafted the Brooklyn lineup to defeat — or “at least neutralize” — the Miami Heat, position by position.
The problem is the defending champs don’t really have positions.
King’s wheeling and dealing got Brooklyn some star power, but the team is now stuck with a traditional starting five in a league dominated by so-called “tweeners” such as LeBron James, who can play just about every position on the court, and Dwayne Wade, a combo guard who moves effortlessly between various backcourt settings.
Both guys had their way with the Nets guards on Nov. 7, when the Heat crushed the Nets, 103–73.
Brooklyn’s much-hyped back court couldn’t pull its weight against Miami’s dynamic stars, with Joe Johnson shooting four of 14 and Deron Williams coughing the ball up seven times.
King hopes the injured small forward Gerald Wallace will be Brooklyn’s X-factor — a lynchpin capable of defending James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, and the rest of the East’s stars who defy easy categorization. But even if Wallace had been on the court against the Heat, it probably wouldn’t have made up for the 30-point deficit.
Going back to the basics didn’t help the Nets in their first match-up against the Heat. But challenging versatility with versatility isn’t necessarily an answer either: just ask last year’s Oklahoma City Thunder — a team loaded with young tweeners including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden that couldn’t overcome Miami’s multi-purpose players in the Finals.
Matt Spolar is a nearly 6-foot-1 journalist with a middling high school basketball career who is sure the Nets win thanks to team’s top-tier guards.