When a team is losing, there’s always a point at which a lingering question becomes impossible to ignore:
Have the Brooklyn Nets resigned themselves to their fate?
In their first game after losing All-Star center Brook Lopez for the season, the Nets lost 103–86 to the Pacers, arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference. It was not so much the loss itself that was concerning. It was that the Nets appeared to know this was not a game they were supposed to win.
After the game, Coach Jason Kidd hinted at what fans watching the game had seen.
“It’s getting very close to just accepting losing,” Kidd said. “We’re kind of getting comfortable with losing. We’ve got to make a stand with that because when things get tough, do we just give in?”
For the rest of the season, this will be the question hanging over these Nets. It’s now clear all the money owner Mikhail Prokhorov spent on this roster has not translated into an elite team. Now is when a team’s pride and resiliency must kick in, with the players digging deep to find a way to be competitive with what they have.
For inspiration, the Nets should look to the Chicago Bulls, which embarrassed Brooklyn on its home floor on Christmas Day. For the second season in a row, the Bulls are having to make do without injured star point guard Derrick Rose. The Bulls are having a rough go of it, but their desire to win was clearly stronger than the Nets’.
Since the Chicago game, the Nets have beat the Milwaukee Bucks, which have the worst record in the NBA, and lost again to the conference-leading Pacers.
“I need to play better,” said point guard Deron Williams after the Pacers game, the Nets’ third loss in four games since Lopez’s injury. “I need to be more aggressive for us to have a chance, especially with Brook going down.”
That is good to hear, but it needs to be reflected on the court, not just by Williams but the rest of the team’s stars. In the meantime, fans are left to wonder how the Nets will perform against the teams with skill levels between those of the Pacers and the Bucks. Will they lay down and die or stand up and fight?
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.