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Are the Nets playing better because, without Kevin Garnett, they're more relaxed?

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Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Despite last night's debacle, the Nets are playing better since the trade deadline, going 4-3 and showing a more relaxed brand of ball.  Is it because Kevin Garnett, Mr. Intensity, has left?  Andy Vasquez raises that question this morning on the pages of the Record.

He writes...

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the trade is the off-the-court impact it’s had on Brooklyn. Ever since the All-Star break and trade deadline, the Nets have played more relaxed.

Part of that is the roster being set. For months, most of the players have been rumored in trades. Now everyone knows they’re staying.

Another reason things are so relaxed in the locker room these days — the reason players and team officials won’t admit publicly — is perhaps everyone’s a little more comfortable without Garnett around.

Is that revisionist history?  After all, the Nets brass praised KG's leadership and intensity ever since he arrived and there's no doubt players like Mason Plumlee and Markel Brown are better players because of his tutelage.  But some inside note that Lionel Hollins feels a bit more free knowing KG's replacement, Thaddeus Young, can be counted on for more reliable, more consistent play.  He can also play back-to-back.  And who wanted to be the coach that ended KG's 1,500 game streak of starting when available?

There’s no question, the Nets are a better basketball team since they traded Garnett for Young. It’s beginning to look as if the chemistry is better, too. And they can thank Garnett for agreeing to waive his no-trade clause.

The big question, though, is this: will they be better in crunchtime, when the playoff race tightens?