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5 NBA Playoff Questions for the Brooklyn Nets

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Moke Hamilton talks Jason Kidd, Brooklyn’s versatility and what scares him about the Raptors.

5 NBA Playoff Questions for the Brooklyn Nets

The NBA Playoffs begin today, and we want to get you excited for the road to the NBA Finals! We emailed bloggers and writers from playoff teams to get their perspective on how their teams will fare in the postseason. Let's learn more about the Brooklyn Nets with Moke Hamilton from SNYNets.com.

The Brooklyn Nets came into the season with incredible expectations after a flurry of moves landed them players like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko. The team struggled out of the gate, but unlike their rivals from across the river, the Nets got better as the season progressed. Center Brook Lopez got hurt again, as did several other members of the team, but Brooklyn's depth rose to the occasion. First-year coach Jason Kidd took his lumps but handled the team nicely, and from January to the end of the season, the Nets went 34-17 to clinch the six seed.

Despite the early struggles, this team enters the postseason as one of the more dangerous lower seeds in the bracket. They drew the Toronto Raptors in the first round and will start the series in Canada before returning to the Barclays Center. We asked Nets writer Moke Hamilton a few questions to prepare for the first round series.

1. The Nets came out of the gate slow and were 11 games under .500 heading into January, but things really turned around over the second half of the season. What was the biggest key to the improved play for Brooklyn as the season went on?

Moke: There are a bunch of things to consider. For starters, the Nets brought in quite a few new faces last summer, so there was an obvious adjustment that was necessary, especially on the parts of Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson.

But the underlying issue is the somewhat clumsy marriage between Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. Especially under Avery Johnson, the Nets got into the habit of force feeding the ball in to Lopez and building their offense around him, despite his mediocre footwork and substandard passing.

Out of necessity, once he was lost for the season, the team began to play smaller and faster and began taking advantage of having three or four effective wings on the floor at once. Throw in the thriving of Mason Plumlee and Shaun Livingston and Jason Kidd's learning a few things along the way, and you have one of the hottest teams in the league entering the playoffs.

2. A lot has been said, both positively and negatively, about first-year coach Jason Kidd. How would you rate his performance, and how do you feel about him heading into the postseason?

Moke: The proof is in the pudding. If we ridicule and fire coaches when their teams underperform, we should credit them when their teams do.

I've spoken with quite a few Nets players over the course of the season and they all, unprompted, have spoken of Kidd's conviction and even-keeled nature when citing the qualities that helped them collectively overcome adversity.

He gets an A- from me and I think he will capably lead his team in the postseason.

3. When you look at this first round matchup against the Raptors, what's the on-court matchup that concerns you the most?

Moke: It would have to be the backcourt only because Williams, Johnson and Pierce will play significant time together. It is difficult to imagine Livingston and Alan Anderson playing much together, if at all. What that means is that while either Livingston or Anderson can do an effective job on Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, one of Williams, Johnson and Pierce will be forced into trying to slow down one of those two for the majority of the game, and that poses an advantage for the Raptors.

4. Who is one role player that really needs to step up for Brooklyn this series?

Moke: The beauty of the Nets is that they do not need any one role player to be more than himself. Livingston, Marcus Thornton and Andrei Kirilenko (if healthy) are all capable of impacting, if not dominating a game in some form. The best answer here may be Mason Plumlee, since he will mostly likely be charged with staying in front of Jonas Valanciunas—no easy task.

5. What is your final prediction for the Nets this postseason?

Moke: I see them getting into a long series with the Miami HEAT in Round 2. If Dwyane Wade is not 100 percent healthy and the Nets manage to get past Toronto, I would take the Nets to score the upset. That all hinges on Wade. I do not see the Nets advancing further than the Conference Finals, though. Odds are, even if they so topple the HEAT, the Indiana Pacers will be there waiting for them, and that's not good news for Brooklyn.

Moke Hamilton is an NBA Analyst for SNYNets.com. You can follow him on Twitter @MokeHamilton

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