Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Upcoming Road Trip - Predictions and Results

So here we are again - 6 games under .500, with the "Texas swing" in the offing. Here are the next several games for the Nets:

Tonite - Spurs
3/4 - @ Spurs
3/5 - @ Memphis
3/7 - @ New Orleans
3/8 - @ Dallas
3/10 - @ Houston
3/12 - Cavs
3/15 - Utah
3/18 - @ Bulls

The Spurs have now won 8 in a row. They play tonite at the Meadowlands. Let's say the juju of the new team make-up, and Tony Parker's relief at Harris getting out of the division is real, and perhaps the Nets win that one. 27-32.

Then they play the Spurs in San Antonio. The probability of the Nets winning there, based on recent history, is essentially nil, but if we have given that the Nets just beat them in NJ, this probability decreases further. 27-33.

At Memphis. The Grizzlies have been decimated, but the Nets will be coming in one night off a bad loss in SA. However, so will the Griz. Tight, losable, but let's say they prevail, narrowly. 28-33.

At New Orleans. Hornets have the one of the best records in the NBA, have just beaten the new look Suns and Utah, and will have tuned up against the sub .500 Wizards, Knicks and Hawks. No chance. 28-34.

At Dallas. Kidd faces his old team, who, when not auditioning him, crush the Nets, especially in Dallas. 28-35.

At Houston. Houston is the hottest team in the NBA. 28-36.

Cleveland is now stacked to win, even on the road. 28-37.

Utah. Best team in the Northwest. 28-38.

At Chicago. The Bulls are way too decimated to contend with a demoralized Nets team, now certainly out of the playoffs, but it will be close, maybe OT. 29-38.

Nets net: Two more weeks down, three more games in the hole.

I just saw the Sixers beat the Suns, and have now passed the Nets as the 7th seed. Just behind the Nets are now the Hawks, Bulls and Indiana. That game on the 18th in Chicago could be for the 8th and final spot, even tho the Bulls have been dismantled. The Hawks could turn it around during the next two and a half weeks, playing as well if not better than the Nets and with an easier schedule during that span, featuring games against the Knicks, Heat, Wizards and Clippers. And guess who the Nets play right after the Bulls - Atlanta.

It is possible that the Nets could catch fire, but with San Antonio in a playoff race for the first time in years, and with an 8 game win streak, the best that can be hoped for is a split. Not exactly the best way to catch fire. The games are set up not to be conducive to streaks, at least not win streaks. They could get demoralized and swoon again and come back from Chicago with less than 28 wins. I'm being optimistic and predicting 2 road wins and a triumph over SA tonite. But wild optimism might have them win 2 more games than that, which would only put them at 31-36, a net increase of just one little game in the standings.

The Nets, with Kidd, with Frank, with the other Big Two, have dug themselves an inconvenient hole. After March 18 they will have only 15 games left, during which they will have to go 11-4 just to make .500. 11-4 while having to play Denver, Phoenix, at Detroit, Toronto, at Cleveland, at Toronto and at Boston. They will need to win at least 3 of those games and sweep the rest, including resurging Atlanta and at Philadelphia, just to break .500. Some of those games against the tougher teams might be easier since they would have clinched their playoff spots. But then some of the games against the "second division" teams might be tougher as they all claw for the privilege of getting destroyed by Boston or Detroit in the first round.

Things look bleak.

I can't possibly expect the playoffs this year. All I can hope for is for this team to play creditably and for Frank to learn some things, and hope for the best in what looks like several years of rebuilding.

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