While most of us have been distracted with Cheerio-Gate — we can never decide on a name for that business; CARMELO-KG-HONEYNUT-BUS-FIGHT-GATE always messed up the margins on our posts — the Brooklyn Nets, with their old, interim "mostly known for Seton Hall and being choked by Latrell Sprewell" coach, have turned into the best team in the NBA. That really happened fast. Everybody missed it.
The Nets beat the Pacers 97–86 at Barclays last night, another impressive win in a string of them. The Nets were without Gerald Wallace, and Deron Williams was hobbled with a thigh injury ... but it didn't stop them (or Williams) from dominating the fourth quarter. Williams has completely turned his game around in the last two weeks, and he was excellent again yesterday, scoring 22 points and dishing out nine assists. He also helped spur a 17–0 run in the third quarter that changed everything.
So take a look at what the Nets are up to right now. They have won six in a row, five of which have been by double digits, including a particularly inspirational win at Oklahoma City, the team with the best record in the NBA. Under P.J. Carlesimo, they are 8-1. They still haven't lost in 2013. And they're making some serious strides in the Atlantic Division: While the Knicks have been dealing with their defensive inconsistency and injuries, the Nets have bum-rushed them, and now they're only two games back. (With another game between the two teams a week from today.) The Nets' schedule over the next week is manageable too; they play Toronto at home tomorrow and then have a home-and-home with Atlanta before that Knicks game. There's a Western trip after that, but that's what wins like this do for you: They give you a cushion. And beating Indiana was particularly nice, considering it pushed the Nets a half-game ahead of the Pacers in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets are as hot right now as they've been since they moved to Brooklyn. It seems like they've done it quietly. It also seems like the Nets are a lot better off when they're doing things quietly.