I could have sworn I was in Brooklyn on Monday night. But after that many drinks, things do tend to get a little hazy.
From what I recall, I grabbed a tallboy and headed to my usual spot in the rafters with the boys. Sure enough, there was a game going on below. Nets-Celtics — the all-important battle for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. This game had more playoff implications than I’ve got cigarette butts lining the floor of my living room.
The Nets had been on a mini-roll lately, winning four of five, including two straight wins against playoff hopefuls and teams ahead of them in the standings — the Milwaukee Bucks and Indiana Pacers. A win over the Celtics would have allowed the Nets to pull tied for eighth in the East. A loss meant more of the same — swishes and bricks, ups and downs. It’s like when kids try to kick me, or businessmen shoo me with their fancy umbrellas — I scuttle away for a bit, but I’ll eventually make my way back. The Nets are the same way, never completely disappearing, but never getting to finish the takeout Thai food that spilled all over the curb, either.
Monday night the team didn’t even get to sniff a rice noodle.
The Isiah Thomas-less Celtics rolled in having played the night before and lost three straight, but Brad Stevens and his B-team All-Stars led by Evan Turner and Kelly Olynyk put a hurting on what I thought was the home team. The Nets, save for Brook Lopez, were garbage — and I don’t mean that in a good way. The team shot 36 percent from the field and went one of 17 from three-point range. If that wasn’t bad enough, the players communicated less on defense than a group of us who once again fell for the old “bread crumbs in peanut butter” trick.
With Monday’s shellacking, the Celtics basically hold the Nets’ immediate and distant future by the balls. Not only did the Bostonians win the game, which gave them a larger lead in the standings, but they also won the playoff tiebreaker by taking the season series 3–1.
Maybe it was the alcohol or nicotine or cocktail of other substances unfit for print, but sitting in the rafters after every fan departed, I thought this looks all too familiar. Whatever happened to the home-court advantage, feeding off the energy of your fans — they feed me plenty — sleeping in your own bed, that obnoxious “BROOOK-LLLYYNN” chant? For the Nets, it seems it’s all useless. With a 12–20 record at Barclays and a 17–20 beyond the rust bowl confines, it is the only team in the NBA with a better away record than home record.
The even worse news for the team is that it plays nine of its remaining 13 games at home.
All of this leads to one conclusion — I wasn’t in Brooklyn after all. Maybe all the booze has finally caught up to me, but at least I have an excuse for not knowing where I am. What’s the Nets players’ reasoning? With the looks of how they played on Monday night, maybe they’re drunk, too.