Latest posts by Ian Scott McCormick (see all)
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Do I reflect here or wait until it really is all over?
I could end it right now, but that would be a cop out. As I told my friends about the column, the constant question was “You’re really going to watch and write about 82 Nets games?”
“Plus the playoffs,” I cheerfully added. Back in October, this was quite the joke. Only, I’d watched them play the Pistons tough in the season opener at Jack Doyles all those months ago. I watched them win their second game, and I watched the flow of their games. I wasn’t really joking. The team looked good. The bottom of the East looked pretty bad. They really could have made the playoffs. I’d spent the entire season arguing that they could make the playoffs, and then inexplicably that they wouldn’t make the playoffs, but that they should have made the playoffs. But they are going to the playoffs and what kind of punk would I be to bail on them now. No, I’m riding this out. Hell, this is the part that’s supposed to be fun.
As for the final regular season game, it was tough to muster the energy. Everything felt like a victory lap, even though there were serious ramifications to the game. A win sent them to Philadelphia where the advanced metrics are good to the Nets. Or better than Toronto, where they would go with a loss coupled by a Magic win. I’ve seen them beat Toronto. I’ve seen them beat Philadelphia. In any single game the Nets could win. Over the course of a best of seven game series? Neither is that promising, but all told, I’d prefer they take on Philly. Still the name of the game is getting ready for the playoffs and keeping everybody off of the disabled list.
Fortunately their opponents were also playing with the intensity of a hungover substitute teacher. Their playoff aspirations were dead. Now was the time to celebrate the end of a career. In fact, the upcoming retirement threatened to overshadow the 82nd game of the year. NBA royalty was in the crowd with LeBron, Melo and CP3 all sitting court side to bid farewell to Heat legend Udonis Haslem. Following Dwayne Wade’s magical 30 point farewell to his home crowd, the Heat dried their best to make sure the 2003 #5 overall pick got his points early. They weren’t really going down. And then with no regard for decency Jarrett Allen blocked the shit out of a bunny layup attempt (that had kind of already gotten blocked by the rim). Senseless. And he was only one day away from retirement.
The Nets pulled away early, stayed away, sat most of the players that got them there and played a bunch of guys who had logged some serious time in the G League. They flirted with letting the Heat back into the game, but ultimately snuffed it out with 113-94 win. Some fans got autographed jerseys. Dwayne Wade took over center court to say goodbye, and the Nets know that they won’t need their passports for the first round. They’ll be taking the bus down to Philadelphia with the intention of making the Sixers and their fans eat shit. And not the celebratory kind of shit. The shit of shame. It’s the battle of two teams that faced the rebuild, and as I consume playoff quantities of alcohol I may be tempted to point out that the Nets did not in fact, try to lose every game they could just to acquire talent. They sucked for years, sure, but they were at least trying.
But I digress. In a way it’s the end of the year, the story I wanted to tell having already been written into the books. But I will stick around for the epilogue of the postseason. All you readers who promised you’d watch the Nets if they made the playoffs need to put the fuck up, by the way. I don’t do the open thread writeups, but there had better be some goddamn Brooklyn content. As has been said by many before, this is a Nets house.
I realize that this hasn’t been a particularly funny column over the past few weeks. I’m not sure I know how to make jokes or view this team with any sort of ironic detachment. I guess that’s what happens when you come into a season with rock bottom expectations and discover that the joke team that you’re supposed to be torturing yourself with is actually pretty entertaining. I’ve had a good time, and I hope that it stays good for at least a few more games. It probably won’t, but I’m excited to find out.
The Brooklyn Nets (42-40) are the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference and will face the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.