Perhaps it's because of that blowout loss to the Heat or because of that late-game collapse against Minnesota, but there was an early sense that the Brooklyn Nets had somehow gotten off to a disappointing start. It was perhaps inevitable: There was so much hype about the franchise and the building and the owner and all of it coming into the year that actual real, live basketball games were bound to be a letdown. Reality, no matter how good, can never quite live up to the fantasy. Or maybe it's the Yankees-esque seating arrangements, with the lower decks increasingly empty while the darkened upper bowl remains full. Or maybe it's BrooklyKnight. We think it's BrooklyKnight.
Anyway, the Nets are feasting on a pretty easy early schedule, raising their record to 4–2 with a 114–101 win over the Cavaliers last night at Barclays Center. It was another one of those games that the Nets jumped out to a big early lead and just barely hung on, though that they did hang on is one step closer to making everybody forget that horrible Timberwolves game. The key last night was Deron Williams, who finally had the superstar game everyone has been waiting for him to have, pouring in 26 points and dishing out eleven assists. As is often the case with Williams — who can forget his explosion against Jeremy Lin last year? — he played his best when faced with a fellow elite point guard, in this case Cleveland's Kyrie Irving. We are still not sure what it says about Williams that he needs the motivation of an up-and-coming point guard to bring out its best, but last night, it was something to see.
Perhaps most encouraging: The fourth quarter was essentially owned by Joe Johnson, who scored a season-high 25 points and looked like the pure scorer he can be and the Nets need him to be. The big-man defense still leaves a ton to be desired: Anderson Varejao had 35 points — on 16-for-21 shooting, which is difficult to do if there is no one on the court with you — and eighteen rebounds. But the Nets won fairly easily without Gerald Wallace or MarShon Brooks, not for nothing.
The easy part of the Nets' schedule, though, is behind them. They host the Celtics tomorrow night before heading on a three-game road swing against Sacramento, the Lakers, and Golden State. It's not much easier when they return to Barclays, hosting the Clippers and the Knicks and traveling to Boston. A 4–2 record is nice, but being .500 in a week would be just as impressive an accomplishment.
We wonder what the Nets do with BrooklyKnight when they go on the road.