In 2014 the Brooklyn Nets have been on championship form.
A 7-1 record through January so far, including wins against four teams with winning records (Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Atlanta Hawks twice), has seen Jason Kidd’s team improve dramatically on their early season form.
Heavy investment during the offseason, which included the arrival of legends such as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, meant many had expected the Nets to challenge this season. But they had struggled to maintain any sort of consistency until now.
With many wondering what exactly has changed for the Brooklyn franchise since January 1., Nets players had a couple of theories.
And they seem to stem from a heavy 113-92 New Years Eve loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
“We made a commitment.
“We used the New Year to say ‘hey we’re going to turn this thing around,” Paul Pierce told GiveMeSport.
“We were all in San Antonio, had a bad loss, really bad loss.
“We were all in a hotel and we were talking about (how) it’s the New Year, we gotta try and figure out a way to turn this thing around.”
While Pierce was keen to deny this was in anyway an officially organized player meeting, he was sure it has been a driving factor in recent weeks:
“I just think that commitment, and coming up with that resolution, is just something that turned us around.”
Shaun Livingston, who has been in great form in the absence of Deron Williams, was in agreement with Pierce:
“It happened as a unit. It happened collectively where we all said ‘look we got to play harder”.
It seems this ad-hoc rallying call has worked, with the Nets comfortably winning against their city rivals, the New York Knicks, last night in Madison Square Gardens.
Last night's win also saw the return from injury of Williams and being able to call on the three time All-Star will undoubtedly aid the Nets as they seek to build on a positive start to 2014.
And Pierce believes an injury free roster, and the consistency that brings, is crucial in the NBA:
“It’s tough when you have so many injuries week in and week out.
“You notice the best teams in the NBA are the healthy ones.”
I am sure the Lakers could attest to that theory.
Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston were speaking to GiveMeSport during their time in London as part of the 2014 Global Games.
The Nets tip-off tonight in Brooklyn against the Orlando Magic (7.30pm ET).