Jason Kidd knows the Nets have to show consistency
It's been stricken from Jason Kidd's memory bank, erased as if he purposely pressed the record button on the footage so he'd never have to see it again.
"It was a long time ago. We can't go back that far," the Nets coach said. "That was 2013."
Here's a refresher then: The situation was similar to the one the Nets faced last night. They were coming off an emotional win and were staring at the Magic, a surefire lottery team. Back on Nov. 3 in Orlando, the Nets were barely 48 hours removed from a triumphant display over the defending champion Heat, riding a vibe that had them feeling as if they could compete with anyone.
But they never showed up against Orlando, thinking they could simply waltz onto the floor and run over the Magic just because they had all the favorable matchups on paper. They got blown away by 21. That's what made Tuesday night's game against Orlando at the Barclays Center an important test, a gauge to see just how well a team that had won seven of eight this calendar year can handle prosperity following Monday's pounding of the Knicks.
"We can't have a letdown," Kidd said before tipoff. "We can look at the Miami game again, when we won [on Jan. 10] and went to Toronto . So, we can't have a letdown, and those guys know that. We've got to get better. We still have a long ways to go and guys know that. This is another opportunity to get better."
Settling on a rotation and going to a smaller lineup has benefited the Nets, giving them an identity they had been desperately searching for. It's allowed them to take better advantage of mismatches, and the Nets are exploiting them with confidence.
They're also familiar with their exact roles, something that wasn't the case early in the season as they struggled to maintain any kind of consistency.
"We're defending, we have been communicating and we are not guessing on what I'm supposed to be doing out here," Kevin Garnett said. "Everybody understands. Jason has done a great job of turning it around, and getting us to understand what he wants, and we have been going out and being efficient."
Billy King pointed to Kidd's newfound comfort zone, suggesting the Nets' resurgence has coincided with their coach finding his sideline groove.
"I think Jason is really coming into his own and is getting a feel for it," the Nets general manager said on ESPN New York radio. "It's just not the fact that [assistant] Lawrence [Frank] is not there. I think just Jason has a better understanding of managing the game, managing the team. He's the one voice right now."
A voice that appreciates his roster boasts a collection of players that can somewhat police themselves, serving as calming influences in times of uneasiness.
"I'm very lucky to have those guys in the locker room, when you talk about veterans guys but [also] the whole team," Kidd said. "We've been hit with a lot of injuries. Those guys, this is a family, and so guys have been supportive throughout. Things didn't look good at the beginning, but guys kept working, stayed positive and hopefully we've turned the corner.
"But we still feel like we've got a long ways to go."