Dennis Velasco (@dv140) and the rest of Tom Lorenzo's crew at NetsDaily bring it on the regular. They are one of the best of SB Nation's team sites and it's always a pleasure to Jam with them. We're Jamming with Dennis today, and my part of the Q & A can be found over there at this link!
Anyway, let's start the Jam.
1: What's been the reason for the successful turn around this season? Earlier on the Nets were looking like the Nyets. (Sorry, I had to use that joke.)
Dennis: Definitely the lack of formal attire by Jason Kidd. Since he's banished the tie, the Nets have been great in 2014! But, seriously, I believe it's a healthy Andrei Kirilenko, who as Jazz fans know, is great all-around and has been awesome on defense for the Brooklyn Nets. Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce seem to be finding their groove with the team and aren't playing like, "Oh wait, we got traded to Brooklyn" anymore. Joe Johnson has been downright unstoppable at times and is easily one of the better late-game players in the NBA since joining the Nets. Then you add in players who've been effective like Shaun Livingston, Andray Blatche, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic and Mason Plumlee, whoa! The second unit has really stepped up and that's something for Jazz fans to watch.
2: What changed more after Brook Lopez went down, the offense or the defense? Do things look better or worse? He was killing it this year.
Dennis: It's hard to say either way because valid points can be made for both. However, since Bropez's main contributions came on offense, I'll say that the offense has changed the most. The Nets are more of a three-ball team now and it's been working thus far. Of course, there's some apprehension there because, you know, "live by the three, die by three" and all that. The attack seems to be more perimeter-based, but the Nets have been moving the ball so well that those outside Js are coming without a defender all up in the grill of the shooter. There's definitely more of a flow since the ball isn't stopping in the post or 15 feet away, waiting for Bropez to make his move. I love the Brookie Monster, but I honestly love this electricity with the offense now a little more. When he comes back next season (please, oh please, basketball gods), there will be an adjustment that needs to be made, most certainly.
3: The Eastern Conference playoffs looks to be about two things: stars, and bench play. All of the guys you have as stars are legit playoff performers. Sell me on the bench.
Dennis: No problem... afterward, I'll tell you about a bridge in Brooklyn I want to sell you. Sorry, stupid joke that only old guys make. Here are some stats and rankings for the bench:
Points: 38.3 (4th)
Rebounds: 17.6 (T-1st)
Assists: 7.9 (T-4th)
Steals: 3.5 (1st)
FG%: 45.5 (6th)
Offensive Efficiency: 42.9 (3rd)
4: Who did your owner MP have to piss off to get your team on a 7 game road trip? What are your expectations for this trip in W/L ?
Dennis: Mikhail Prokhorov probably shot the wrong bear while jet skiing, but how cool is it to do 360s in the water while holding a harpoon gun and picking off bears near the shore of the Baltic Sea?!?!?! In all seriousness, the circus is in town, so we'll blame the Brothers Ringling. I think the Nets have a realistic shot at 4-2 with losses to the Golden State Dubs and Portland Trail Blazers. It's a tough schedule, so I'd be happy with breaking even.
5: If the crowd boos Deron Williams it's not because everyone hates him. It's just because we can't be reasonable about these things. I think the breaking point for fans result in the cheers Andrei Kirilenko gets. Jazz fan's can't know how to act when they are conflicted. Are there any players out there that elicit a similar response from Nets fans? Richard Jefferson, right?
Dennis: I'm not sure. When players like Kidd, Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, and the aforementioned Jefferson left, it was because of ownership. Although, Kidd faking (allegedly) his inability to play to have a trade happen quicker was a little shady, BUT understandable. So, just like the legacy of Julius Erving, you can't really blame formerly beloved players for leaving because it wasn't directly their decision. Because the Nets have been so bad, specifically during the waning years in New Jersey, the only visceral emotion you'll get from Nets fan is usually one of conceding defeat. Kind of like Cleveland Indians in "Major League" (and in real life).
Visit NetsDaily! And thanks again to Dennis, Tom, and the rest of your great crew. I really am investigating the Nets bench more closely now as a product of these answers. The numbers don't lie! Anyway, let's try not to boo Deron Williams too much tonight, Jazz fans!