Nets mostly succeeding on two-week road trip
Not including the Nets’ current two-week absence from the Barclays Center due to the presence of the circus, there have been 30 road trips in the NBA consisting of at least five games.
During those trips, teams have posted winning records just seven times and not surprisingly the best performances have been achieved by NBA elite such as Miami and San Antonio. Miami swept a five-game road trip in mid-March during its 27-game winning streak while San Antonio won seven of nine during its annual rodeo trip that was broken up by the All-Star break.
The Nets have a chance to enter that minority with a win Wednesday night in Cleveland, a game that occurs the night before a home game with Chicago in a potential battle for home-court advantage in a No. 4 vs. No. 5 postseason matchup.
So far, the trip has gone mostly well with four wins in seven games. The Nets won games against sub-500 competition in Detroit and Phoenix and pulled off victories in Dallas and Portland, two teams with losing records but near the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The losses were a close game to the Clippers, a blowout in Denver and in the second night of a back-to-back in Utah. That sent the trip from 4-1 to 4-3 which is still decent, but still slightly disappointing for the Nets.
“We were above .500,” Deron Williams said after the team made a brief stop in East Rutherford, N.J. for practice Tuesday. “We lost to three playoff teams and two of the best home teams that there are in the game, so those are two hard games to win at the end of a road trip. But we wish we would have finished a little bit better.”
“We want to finish on an upswing and the seven games we played on the trip, we didn’t finish on an upswing,” interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “We were on a pretty good upswing and we kind of took a couple steps back.”
When the team played at the Meadowlands, the lengthy road trips usually happened three times a season but rarely lasted more than a week. It appears this type of trip will happen again in future seasons but the hope is it will include more Eastern Conference opponents.
“Hopefully, in the future there will be more Eastern games and it will be a better breakdown during the trip so you don’t literally pack up and head out for two weeks,” Carlesimo said. “That’s not the ideal situation, especially this time of the year.
It also wasn’t ideal because the night the trip began with a blowout win in Detroit the Knicks snapped a four-game losing streak in Utah. That left the Nets one game out of first place and they haven’t been able to gain any ground because the Knicks have won eight in a row.
Johnson practices, still questionable
Joe Johnson described the feeling in his sore left heel and right quad as “great.” However, the combination of playing the Bulls on Thursday and how he feels Wednesday morning in Cleveland may factor into if he actually suits up.
“I know it’s a back-to-back,” Johnson said. “So it’s kind of, ‘pick what game you want to play basically,’ so we’ll see.”
Johnson tested his pain threshold by participating in every drill in practice. That included scrimmaging with teammates and followed the usual procedure of ice and rest.
The Nets have gone 2-2 during Johnson’s four-game absence. In the three games he has played on the trip, Johnson has shot 13-of-44 (29.5 percent) and since returning from the initial three-game absence due to a sore heel in late-February, he is shooting 42.5 percent while averaging 13.3 points.
Joseph signs 10-day contract
Watching some of former Syracuse teammates make the Final Four wasn’t the only good news Kris Joseph received in the last few days. The other was finding out the Nets signed him to a 10-day contract Tuesday.
Joseph was a second-round pick of the Celtics last June and spent most of this season in the NBDL. He was acquired by the Nets’ D-League affiliate in Springfield on Feb. 11 and averaged 19 points while starting 15 games that he said featured an improved performance on 3-pointers.
“In college I shot the ball pretty decently and the question was transitioning from the college three to the NBA three,” Joseph said. “When I was in Boston in the limited minutes I didn’t shoot a lot of threes. In Maine [with Boston's NBDL team] I did and I didn’t shoot a high percentage but once I got to Springfield I was shooting in the high-40s [percent] and I think that’s the part of my game that has improved the most.”
Joseph’s best showing from behind the arc was a 5-for-5 night on March 19 against Erie and he ended his latest stint by shooting 13-for-24 on 3-pointers over his last five games.
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.