You can take the road warriors moniker away from the Nets now. It’s official.
They used to play well on the road. At one point, they ranked up there with Boston, Orlando and Cleveland, but we all knew the Nets would come back to reality.
They had 10 wins in their first 14 games, 10 road wins by Dec. 27. Since that point, they’re 1-7 on the road and came off this tough trip dropping three of the four.
I think most would have predicted a 1-3 trip or 2-2 at best. But the way it happened is what should raise some eyebrows.
The Nets came to play against the Spurs and battled them to the wire and with a make here or there could have upset the NBA power. But the Nets didn’t come to play against the Thunder, the NBA’s worst team by record.
This was a team that took the Nets to overtime just two weeks earlier so they knew the effort and energy with which the young group played.
Yet after the Nets were humiliated in the finale at Oklahoma City, Devin Harris said, “I don’t know if we looked forward to going home or just overlooked them.”
Both possibilities are worrisome, and not things good teams – or good road teams – do.
First, the Nets shouldn’t overlook anyone. Who are they? Second, they’ve quietly and publicly talked all season about how the road has been better to them – because of the fan support, etc. – and how they’re a better team on the road. Now they want to go home?
Well, they got their wish. They’re home for one game, and then on the road for three of the following four. If they give the same half-hearted effort as they did in the Thunder game, the Nets could go from five games under .500 to eight or 10 before you know it.
And if that happens, it’s going to be hard to get back to the breakeven point.
We keep talking about games from which the Nets can grow and build. We say that because they’re a young team. But their veterans were a big part of the problem against the Thunder.
The young guys, some of whom were on the floor to help the deficit reach 30, were out there for the run that made the score look better than it was.
Overall, this should be the ultimate wake-up call. It’s one thing to lose by 30 – twice – to the Celtics in four days. It’s another to be down 30 to the Thunder, no matter how hard they play or work.
You have to look at the overall body of work right now and it’s not good.
The Nets have lost six of seven with four of them essentially being by double-digits. The Oklahoma game was only nine but that was because of a 24-1 run late. The Nets were crushed in that game. Don’t let the score fool you.
Just like you shouldn’t have been fooled by the Nets’ early success on the road. It was legit because they played together, played with urgency, showed all the things they didn’t at home.
Now they haven’t shown it in two of their last five away games – against arguably the NBA’s best team and the NB A’s worst. That’s troublesome.
Wear a football jersey to tomorrow’s game against the Raptors and you can receive an upper bowl ticket for $10 and a lower bowl ticket for half price. For more, log onto http://www.njnets.com.
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)