BROOKLYN-TO-LONDON - Time to learn the Queens’ English.
In what has become one of the highlights for the NBA, the Nets head to London for a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 16. The Nets will cross the pond on Sunday, Jan 12th, giving the team three days to acclimate to the time change, practice, and see the sights.
There is no word yet on whether Prince William and Kate Middleton have requested an audience with Sir Kevin Garnett and Co. It probably works the other way.
The Nets, of course, must remember this is a business trip, first and foremost. The business of basketball has not been kind to the Nets. Center Brook Lopez was lost for the season on Dec. 20th after suffering a broken bone in his right foot.
The Nets, who had been running their offense through the 7-foot center, had to find a new way of doing business going into January.
The Hawks have been one of the surprise teams in the NBA, winning 14 of their first 26 games and trailing only Miami in the Southeast Division. At 14-12 they had the third best record in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks are a selfless team that was leading the league in assists midway through December by averaging an astonishing 25.2. dishes. The Nets need to pack the bag labeled ‘Help Defense,’ before they boarded that flight to the U.K.
But no NBA season is decided by one game, although certainly how the Nets rebound from the cross-ocean flight and time change could affect their performance later in the month.
It’s a month that begins with a game against one of the great young assist makers in the NBA. Kyrie Irving, averaging 21 points and six assists, will match quick-twitch muscles with Deron Williams
The Nets then get a preview of life in London. They host the Hawks on Jan. 6.
And then Barclays Center should consider a ‘Seat Belt Giveaway Night’ on Jan. 8. The high-scoring, sweet-passing, torrid-shooting Warriors, coached by Brooklyn’s own Mark Jackson comes to town.
Jackson, who starred at St. John’s, was as smart a college point guard as we’ve ever seen. He was pretty heady in the NBA as well.
The Nets get their second crack of the season agianst the team they likely will have to go through if they expect to get to the NBA Finals. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat, led by one of the greatest players in NBA history, comes to Barclays Center on Jan. 10.
Brooklyn edged the Heat, 101-100, back on Nov. 1 in one of the most electrifying nights in Barclays Center history. LeBron James, who somehow continues to get better, scored 27 that night.
The Nets will have to find a way to respond emotionally the next night when they play at Toronto. Talk about a trap game. The Nets play the Raptors the night after facing the Heat and the night before they leave for London.
Brooklyn will have to re-charge those emotional batteries quickly on its return to the States. After going across the pond, the Nets will cross the East River to face the Knicks.
The Nets will surely be looking for payback. The Knicks scorched them at Barclays Center, 113-83. The Nets were without Paul Pierce (broken bone in his right hand) and Williams (sprained left ankle) but the 30-point loss was unacceptable against a Knicks team that had lost nine straight coming.
The Nets will then do what a lot of New Yorkers do in January – they’ll head to Florida. After the Knicks game, Brooklyn flies to Orlando for a game against the Magic. Orlando has never recovered from the loss of Dwight Howard.
The Dallas Mavericks, the team with which Nets coach Jason Kidd won his lone NBA championship, comes to Barclays Center on Jan. 24. Dallas has fallen off in recent years but Dirk Nowitzki can take over a game – unless Kevin Garnett has something to say about it.
Garnett and Pierce will have a lot to process emotionally on Jan 26 when they make their first trip to Boston since being traded from the Celtics over the summer. Pierce spent his entire career in a Celtics jersey. When KG arrived in 2008, he teamed with Pierce and Ray Allen to bring Boston the NBA title.
The Nets get another crack at the Raptors before ending the month with what many thought might be an NBA Finals preview before this season started:
Brooklyn vs Oklahoma City.
The Thunder have lived up to their end behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Nets were still trying to find themselves midway through December.
The answer doesn’t lie in the United Kingdom. But perhaps a chance to get away as a team will be just what that Nets need.