Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Undefeated New Jersey Nets

Well, I've been to two games this season, and have lost several years off my life. But, for the first time since 2002, and only the sixth time in franchise history, the Nets are 2-0. It is also the first time since 1968 that a team has started 2-0 after having less than 20 wins the year before. So pop the bubbly! Just thought I'd share some thoughts:

I still love this new arena. As mentioned in my last post, the crowd really gets into these games like I haven't seen before. Granted, these were two of the more exciting games of the past few years, but there is a palpable difference between Newark and East Rutherford. I felt the opening game had a better crowd, but the surprising number of Kings fans at Friday's game led to some entertaining back-and-forth.

Sidenote: Maybe it is just me, but I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Sacramento Kings. They are like the Nets West: they sucked for a while, then randomly became contenders in the early part of the decade, then have been stuck in a strange rebuilding quagmire. Stay strong, Sacramento.

Haterade: With Bobby Simmons gone, I had to pick a new least favorite Nets. Congrats to Travis Outlaw! Sure, he had one bad game and one good game, but that contract is still indefensible. He's a sixth man at best, and you shouldn't sign bench players to five-year deals. Other players may suck, but they won't be sucking for $7M.

Sidenote: I watched a bit of the Wizards-Magic game on Thursday. How pleasant is it to watch Yi Jianlian suck for another team? There was a moment in the third quarter where the Wizards had a fast break, and it kicked out to Yi running straight down the middle. My roommate was in the bathroom when this happened. When he came out, I described it to him and asked him what he thought the result was. He said, "Blocked by Jameer Nelson." He was close: Yi was blocked by JJ Redick.

It is nice to celebrate, but I still don't see this team making the playoffs. My prediction before the season was 29 wins, and it included winning these two games. However, it is very nice to just be a bad team again, rather than a historically bad team.

Final notes: I was on the Brad Bogner show recently, and got all my NBA predictions recorded for the Internet to hear. Check it out here. I will also be doing stand-up comedy at New York Comedy Club Friday, November 12th at 10PM. If you are interested in attending, leave a note in the comments or e-mail me.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Preseason Unhype: My First Game Back

I've had basketball fever since August. Unfortunately, as you can tell by my lack of updates, there hasn't been anything that has really got my juices flowing. Sure, Rod Thorn left, Troy Murphy arrived, and Carmelo did a little of both, but nothing got my fired up. So, yesterday, I embarked on my first trip to the Prudential Center to see the Nets hoop it up.

They are the view from my seats. This is the 16th year that my family have purchased some type of season ticket plan (usually a 10 game package or half-season tickets), and this is the closest we have sat. It is perfect "storming the court if there is a big fight" distance. Needless to say, I am pumped to sit here this year.

Everyone has praised the Prudential Center as a huge improvement over the Izod Center, and usually hit the same points - nicer seating, better food, easier to get to, etc. However, the thing I noticed and loved was the types of fans that came to this game. Now, I'm crossing my fingers and hope I don't jinx it when I write this - but the Nets might have a good crowd. Moving to Newark, a large city with easy public access, allows for a younger, "hipper" demographic to come. The Izod Center played to more of the family type atmosphere. But the people I sat around knew basketball and followed the game closely, cheering the Nets and heckling the Celtics. The crowd was sparse, but pretty solid for a Thursday night preseason game. The moment that stood out to me was during the fourth quarter, when Derrick Favors got called for a questionable moving screen call, and the crowd rained down upon the refs with deafening boos. It was the loudest I've heard the crowd in years for something that didn't involve throwing free t-shirts. So, that's my optimism.

However, I am very pessimistic about the Nets' chances this season. Usually, I try to hope that with some lucky breaks, they can will themselves to 40-ish wins and an improbable playoff run. This year, I hold out no such hopes. I do not dislike any player in particular, it just seems that, chemistry-wise and experience-wise, the personnel is clearly a year away. As obvious as this sounds, they clearly look like a team that was just put together this month. So, 25 wins is exactly what I am expecting, and am telling all my loyal readers to brace for the rough times.

My final plea is to be gentle on Derrick Favors. As a #3 pick and the potential Carmelo trade hanging over him, expectations will be high. But, he is a 19-year-old kid (the youngest Net ever) trying to play the toughest position in the NBA. Please don't give up on him before Thanksgiving. Clearly, after Christmas, he is fair game.