Nets understand the playoffs are a whole new ballgame
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Is this a Brooklyn approach to the NBA playoffs or what? Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo and his marquee player, Deron Williams, on Monday made the point that this is a perfect time for short memories, a mentality of "forget about it" (spelled differently in the team's home borough).
With six games to go in the regular season, the Nets have hung up some nice numbers: A victory over Philadelphia Tuesday night at Barclays Center would give them their most wins, 45, in seven years and would give Carlesimo, who replaced the fired Avery Johnson in December, the best starting record for a coach (31-18) the team has ever had.
Williams, with 32 points against Charlotte on Saturday night, scored at least 30 points in back-to-back games for the second time in the last 10 games and further reinforced his return to All-Star-quality play after struggling for months with ankle problems and inconsistent shooting.
But will the good deeds carry over to the postseason? Or might Gerald Wallace's recent battle with confidence in his shot prevail in the playoffs?
"He needs to stop talking about it," Williams said of Wallace. "Just like I had to stop talking about my injuries and my shooting, because it just weighs on you . . . starts creeping into your head."
Disregard all recollections, Carlesimo suggested. "The playoffs are a different animal; everything starts all over," he said. "I mean, as good a regular season as you could have, and as prepared as you are, the matchup kind of trumps everything and really doesn't matter.
"The dynamic changes dramatically from every game. Like whoever wins that first game, the desperation level for the other team is so much higher. It gets to be a challenge to match the desperation level as you go deeper and deeper into a series.
"You want to be as healthy as you can be and playing as well as you can, but there's no magic bridge that enables you to continue doing in the playoffs the way you finish the regular season."
Of course, the Nets would like to retain their hold on the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference to ensure home-court advantage in the first round. But once in the second season, "there's a lot of mental toughness that needs to be there," Carlesimo said, "so you can put the previous game behind you and deal with the next game. If you can deal with it a game at a time, it's a tremendous advantage in the playoffs."
Short memories lengthen the odds.