The Nets enter this season with a new identity thanks to an offseason trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Credit: Getty Images
The last time the Nets played a game that counted, they gave up 19 baskets that were either layups or dunks and they trailed by 17 at halftime.
The eventual loss to Chicago, and resulting elimination from the playoffs, set in motion the deal with Boston which landed Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
It’s also why the Nets are not only talking about being on the same level as the defending-champion Heat but talking about winning a championship.
“I think our own expectations and our own goals are going to exceed everybody else’s,” Garnett said. “I think we got our destiny known here and again it goes back to sacrifice and giving up your own for the betterment of others. So I think that starts with tomorrow, if not tonight.”
Garnett snarled in his media day press conference that a ring is the only reason he is in Brooklyn, before adding a second “only reason” in his deep voice for emphasis.
Pierce dismissed the significance of a division title on the same day by saying he did not want to see any symbols of it, not even a T-shirt or hat.
“On paper we look real good, but it’s all going to come down to everybody making sacrifices — making sacrifices with minutes, shots, being there for each other when people are down,” Evans said. “That’s the biggest thing — accepting a new role and making sacrifices in a positive way.”
Jason Terry, who is a similar age to Garnett and Pierce and was included in the same offseason trade, played with them for the first time last season in Boston.
“I was blessed and very fortunate to play with two guys that have the same passion, the same drive, the same dedication that I have,” Terry said. “To be able to go to work with them, enjoy time with them on and off the court, it’s just an honor for me and I can honestly say I’ve been blessed to play alongside them.”
Alan Anderson grew up in Minneapolis watching the evolution of Kevin Garnett from a South Carolina high school player into the “Big Ticket” as a teenager and avid Timberwolves fan.
“His intensity is at all times,” Anderson said. “When he steps in between the lines, he’s all business. Fun and games and all of that, [not with him], he’s trying to win.”
The intensity Anderson talked about took shape at various points even during the preseason. He told his new head coach Jason Kidd he didn’t want to rest during the exhibitions, even on a back-to-back.
But it especially emerged in a preseason tilt against Miami — a team which could be Brooklyn’s top rival.
Garnett responded to criticism by LeBron James about leaving Boston by telling him to “mind his business.”