Like the Knicks, the Nets lost on Christmas and have not looked themselves lately. Even more so than the Knicks, though, Brooklyn seems discombobulated, flailing. They didn't just fail to execute in yesterday's blowout loss to the Celtics; they appeared to lack a consistent plan or any instinct to adapt and recover from adversity.
Much has been made of this already, but Avery Johnson's coaching smacks of desperation. After Deron Williams reminisced openly about the system he played in Utah, Johnson successfully added a few Jerry Sloan–esque flex sets to the Nets' game plan in the recent win over Philadelphia. Yesterday, we saw almost nothing of that kind, and Williams's offensive performance was eerily silent and ineffective once more.
Johnson's rotations remain agitated as well. Not long after moving Gerald Wallace to the starting power forward spot, Johnson switched things up at halftime and returned Reggie Evans to the first unit. It didn't exactly pan out, as Boston started the second half on an 8-1 run. The Nets did make subsequent runs of their own, but much too little, much too late. The Celtics — who, with all this beef, kinda seem like Brooklyn's chief rival right now — overwhelmed Brooklyn on one end and just watched them unravel on the other with twenty turnovers, a dozen missed free throws, and 40 percent shooting from the field.
It wasn't and hasn't been a good look for a team that now commands national attention with things like Christmas Day games on ESPN, and the heat of the spotlight is palpable in a tweet like this one from CEO Brett Yormark:
Nets fans deserved better today. The entire organization needs to work harder to find the solution. We will get there.
With superstars around, you can sometimes get away without a truly coherent plan. But while the Nets don't appear to be irretrievably broken, guys like Williams and Joe Johnson haven't exactly been bailing Avery Johnson out while he struggles to cement the team's identity. Brooklyn's a bit of a mess these days.