Nets Aren't Ready to Handle the Heat

Nets sell patience after 30-point loss

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Nov 8, 2012  |  Updated 7:55 AM EDT
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While the Nets were trying to sell Brooklyn on hopping aboard the bandwagon during the offseason, they talked a lot about battling the Heat for the Eastern Conference crown. 

Based on Wednesday's performance, that may have been biting off a bit more than they could chew. The Heat crushed the Nets 103-73 in Miami on Wednesday night to make a pretty emphatic case that the Nets need to learn to walk before they can start running or even talking about running. 

It was a game that followed a script common to many Heat games, close enough through halftime to make you think the Nets had a shot and then a third quarter blitz that put the game totally out of reach. Gerald Wallace missing the game with an ankle injury certainly didn't help when it came to defending LeBron James, but shooting 37.5 percent from the floor and turning the ball over 19 times is going to make you a loser every single time. 

Joe Johnson shot 4-of-14 and Brook Lopez scored just eight points as the Nets' offensive prowess appeared to still be on line waiting to vote in Dade County. Deron Williams, who had seven of those turnovers against the swarming Miami trap, said after the game that the team would take time to figure out how to put its best foot forward. 

"It’s still early in the season," Williams said. "We’re 1-2. It’s not like it’s time to start panicking. We told people it’s going to take some time for us to come together. And it’s looking that way still."

What Williams says is absolutely true. It's also an impossible sell for two very big reasons. 

The first is that the Nets are starting four players who were on the team last year because they chose this route to make Williams stay, which, even with Wallace's midseason arrival and Lopez's injury, makes it harder to say that you're starting from scratch. When you compare that to the overhauled and cohesive Knicks -- unfair to the Nets, but inevitable all the same because they asked for the comparisons -- it doesn't make any sense. 

The second is that the Nets business side didn't sell themselves as a work in progress. Avery Johnson and players have always preached patience, but the Nets marketed themselves as championship contenders at every opportunity. 

It's like a restaurant that opens, charges full prices and then asks you to just be excited about how good the food will be in six months after they serve you undercooked pork and spill soup in your lap. It's a very tough tightrope for the Nets to walk and there aren't circumstances that make it no big deal to lose games by 30 points. 

That includes playing LeBron, Dwyane Wade and the Heat. They might be the best, but the Nets can't think that makes it okay to get totally run off the floor. 

Patience is a virtue that people will be willing to offer the Nets, but they're going to need to show more of a sign that this isn't just the same old Nets in flashy new wrapping. They didn't do that Wednesday. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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