The 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets are the most expensive team in the history of the NBA. So, is it a little disappointing that they’ve finished as the sixth seed? Is the pressure still on them, despite being the lower seed? Maybe. Only time can answer that question, but what many people fail to realize, is that the Nets are going through somewhat of a "golden age" in their organization.
I like to compare this Nets squad to the soccer team Real Madrid put together during a short period of time from 2002-2006, when they were called "galacticos". The "galacticos" was a label on the organization during a time where the owner spent countless amounts of money for superstar players every year, in order to make a world-class team filled with superstars. For that organization, it was the golden age.
A Brooklyn Nets lineup worth well over $100,000,000 and a rotation with six former All-Stars certainly sounds similar to the plan set forward by Madrid. (The Madrid team is still dominant, but any fan will tell you they would kill to go back to those days). Compared to years in the past, whether it be good or bad, the 2014 Nets are striving for nothing short of excellence. So, cherish what the Nets are doing while you still can!
But, before we get started with the 2013-2014 playoffs, let’s take a look at the Nets playoff history in the 21st century:
Nets vs. Raptors 2014 NBA Playoffs
Byron Scott’s first year as the Nets coach. Stephon Marbury was at the helm for the New Jersey Nets, but the team finished 26-56, five games worse then the season before. Following that season, Marbury was traded for Jason Kidd.
2001-2002: "The Captain"
Final record: 52-30 (a franchise best), Atlantic Division Champions.
Rarely does one player change one team’s fate so much. Any fans during this time can recall the glory days of hearing the PA announcer call out, "The Captain, Number 5, JASON KIDD!" Still, prior to the start of the season, they were doubted to even make the playoffs, yet they finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
The playoffs started with them beating the Indiana Pacers in five games (in a best out-of-five series), Charlotte Hornets, and Boston Celtics. The road to the championship was an incredible one containing moments to remember in each round: A half-court buzzer beater from Reggie Miller to send game 5 to overtime - or - blowing a 21 point lead in game 3 against Boston to go down 2-1 in the series!
They were a resilient group with very little star power, but that same resilience paved the way straight to the championship, where the star-studded duo of Shaquille O’Neal & Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers awaited them.
The dominance of O’Neal & Bryant was too much for the Nets to handle. They were swept and their incredible season was over. Long time fans may remember this as one of the greatest seasons in Nets history.
2002-2003: "Second Times a charm.. right?"
Final record: 49-33, Atlantic Division Champions.
If there was going to be a year to win it all, this was it. The Nets beat the Milwaukee Bucks in six games to take the first round. For the second straight season, they defeated the Boston Celtics in a series; except this time, they swept them. The third round was another easy series for the Nets as they also swept the Detroit Pistons and were headed to their second straight NBA championship.
Their matchup: San Antonio Spurs.
In David Robinson’s last season in the NBA, the Spurs overmatched the Nets in the Finals. The team from Jersey went on to lose the series in six games, putting up a tough fight, but they just didn’t have the fire power to override the depth of the Spurs.
Who would’ve thought to this day, the Spurs would make the playoffs every single year?
2003-2004: "Alonzo, Ratner's thoughts of Brooklyn and the birth of NetsDaily!"
Final record: 47-35, Atlantic Division Champions.
After getting off to a shaky start in the season, the Nets fired Byron Scott and replaced him with assistant coach Lawrence Frank, who immediately won 13 straight games with the team. For the third straight season, the Nets were crowned Division champs, and hoped to finally have the solution to winning an NBA Championship ring.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Nets swept the Knicks in four games. The next round, the Pistons awaited revenge on the Nets. The two teams battled all the way to Game 7, a game where the Nets were absolutely blown out, 90-69. Detroit won the NBA Championship that season, and the Nets championship aspirations were nothing but a pipe dream.
2004-2005: "Goodbye Kenyon & Kittles, Hello VC!"
Final record: 42-40, eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
After losing Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles, the Nets struggled. They acquired Vince Carter from the Toronto Raptors and the duo of Kidd & Carter finished 16-5 to end the regular season and clinch a playoff seed on the last day of the NBA season.
The Nets held a tiny ray of hope, but realistically they had a very little chance at beating the Heat in the first round. They were swept, 4-0.
2005-2006: "The Nets big three"
Final Record: 49-33, Atlantic Division Champions. Four Division titles in five years, something you rarely hear about nowadays, eh?
The big three of Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, and Richard Jefferson were certainly an exciting group to watch for Nets fans. The Nets took down the Indiana Pacers in the first round yet again, but failed to beat the Heat in the second round. It was the tough combo of Shaquille O’Neal & Dwyane Wade that gave the Nets heartaches in this series. This group had some serious potential together, but failed to put it together.
2006-2007: "Deja Vu for this upcoming series?"
Final Record: 41-41, sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets were up against the Chris Bosh and the third seed, Toronto Raptors. The Raptors, who had high expectations that season were upset by the New Jersey Nets in six games, highlighted by a Richard Jefferson go-ahead bucket with eight seconds remaining.
Next round: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets won a few ugly games in this series but lost in six games to The King. Little did Nets fans know, this was the last chance at a title run while the team was still in Jersey.
2007-2008: "Farewell captain"
After starting the season 14-16, Jason Kidd was traded.
The Nets finished 34-48 and fell short of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.
2008-2012: "The end of an era"
The Nets missed the playoffs to end their final five years in New Jersey, and on to Brooklyn they went.
2012-2013: "Hello Brooklyn!"
Final Record: 49-33, fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets were up against the gritty Chicago Bulls in the first round, but failed to outlast them in a seven game series. They fought back after being down 3-1 in the series, but lost game 7 on their home court in Brooklyn.
2013-2014: "Playoffs only for Brooklyn!"
Final record: 44-38, sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Although they failed to win the Atlantic Division this season, the expectations are high and the team is ready for the playoffs.
The question is: Are you ready, Brooklyn?