Christmas Day was something of a measuring stick for a number of teams to evaluate their progress through the first third of the season. The Brooklyn Nets decided to experiment with a different and smaller starting lineup. Needless to say, it did not solve any of their problems. The Nets fell at home to a division foe in the Boston Celtics 93-76. They started off the game fairly well, holding on to a two point lead going into the second period, but it got pretty ugly thereafter.
Where shall I begin? Deron Williams seems to be an appropriate starting point; the superstar point guard is the backbone of this Brooklyn team and was the first piece of the puzzle put in place for the big move. The problem absolutely starts with Williams, but it certainly does not end there. I’ve been pulling for this Brooklyn team ever since the beginning of the season and I have to admit that, quite frankly, I have no sympathy for Deron Williams and the situation he is in.
Every superstar has a vision as to how they would like to see their career progress. For most of them, winning a top priority once their first real contract expires. For others, they decide that they have so little patience that they need to be moved before they become a free agent and teams are forced to trade them in hopes of receiving some kind of value in return. This should sound quite familiar. A couple of names come to mind very quickly. But I am talking about Deron Williams. He fits right into this kind of dilemma and everyone kind of just forgot about what happened in Utah.
Now he is in Brooklyn; the season started quite well, and all of the sudden it has taken a turn for the worse. The Nets have lost nine of their last 12 games and Williams has said that he is not as comfortable in Avery Johnson’s offense. Deron apparently claims to be a “system” player with a preference for an offense that has a lot of movement. He even went as far as referencing Jerry Sloan’s offense as being a suitable fit for him.
Okay, now let’s just stop right there. For those of you who forgot, Deron Williams almost single-handedly forced Jerry Sloan into retirement. Wait, no, he did single-handedly force him to retire. Sloan, one of greatest coaches of all-time, was tired of dealing with his star point guard and decided to resign his position with the Jazz organization. Call him old-fashioned, but Jerry Sloan is a legend, and even he got tired of dealing with his prima donna one guard. Now Deron Williams wants to go back to the system that made him a superstar?
Well maybe he should have stayed in Utah to begin with. I mean can we picture the Utah Jazz with the former Williams still running the point position? But that’s over and done with and he is in Brooklyn now. I can only hope that this does not lead to another firing of another very good NBA coach. The league is now run by the players and that is who should take the blame for their poor play. Deron Williams should admit that he was wrong. LeBron eventually acknowledged his unnatural turn towards playing the bad-guy role in Miami, and now that he has gotten back to his normal self he is playing better than ever.
Mentally, there must be something bothering Deron Williams. Maybe that is what he was trying to say last week. If he needs to call Jerry and tell him he was wrong then so be it. But it’s time to put it behind him. People make mistakes. And right now, Brooklyn needs him to play basketball.
Brooklyn needs him to come out and play like he is the best player on the floor every night. He has a strong supporting cast, but he does not have to share the spotlight with a sidekick like LeBron and Durant do. He is the spotlight. Coming out and taking only seven shots on Christmas Day is not what he was brought to this franchise to do. Get your teammates involved, yes. But it’s time to get aggressive offensively.
Andray Blatche has been playing some of the best basketball of his career, but he should not be taking more shots than Deron Williams. Not when the team is losing. Avery Johnson should however, start to get this team running. If the Nets can get out in transition, it will open up more options for their offense. Brooklyn has a lot of fire power and it needs to be utilized.
With the way this team has been playing lately they might not be able to afford taking Kris Humphries out of the lineup. Against the Celtics on Christmas the game slowed down and Boston had their way with the Nets inside. Boston is last in the league in rebounding, but they were plus five against Brooklyn yesterday. The Celtics simply came out and played with a lot more energy and assertiveness, displaying qualities that a championship contender should possess.
Rondo looked to be aggressive and took care of the ball; and Paul Pierce was quiet in the scoring column with a season low eight points, but facilitated the offense superbly by handing out a season high 10 assists. This was following a season high 12 rebounds to go with 35 points for Pierce last game, and a season high 40 points the game before that. With the Celtics also looking to get back on track, the future hall of famer Paul Pierce has been elevating his game, playing among the best in the league this month.
What the struggling Brooklyn Nets need is to come out and respond to this adversity. Their body language was awful against the Celtics and too many times they were hanging their heads after mistakes. They just do not look like themselves out there and confidence became an issue midway through the game. Brooklyn needs to relax and focus on playing their game. If they can remain confident, their offense will come and things will eventually work out.
It all starts with the point guard, and Deron Williams will need to lead by example to turn this team around. Williams and Coach Johnson need to sit down and figure out what is best for the team so that they can get back to playing basketball. It is still early in the season with plenty of time to turn things around.
With a record of 14-13 they are still in seventh place in the east and things can only get better from here. Now is simply the time to embrace the hard-nosed style of Brooklyn and translate that mentality onto the court. Deron Williams, it is time to remind everyone why you are a superstar and one of the best point guards in the game today.