The truth of the matter is that there are games, and then there are games.
Thursday night’s nationally televised date against the Celtics fell into the latter category, as the Nets acknowledged that they viewed the game as a measuring stick.
“Boston has been successful for a long time,” head coach Avery Johnson said in his pregame press conference. “Yeah, you do take bits and pieces from successful programs.
“I think that’s what successful programs do. We try to see what makes other teams successful and organizations successful. I think you can learn a lot from a lot of different situations.”
And why wouldn’t they? Boston has won the Atlantic Division each of the last five seasons, including two NBA Finals appearances and one NBA championship.
“In our situation, the Celtics are definitely [kept] in mind,” Johnson said. “From a division standpoint, the Celtics are the standard. They are the model of consistency for a long time.
“They’re the standard. We talk about them a lot.”
Johnson praised Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. He was especially effusive with his praise of Garnett.
“I think Garnett is outstanding defensively, the way he communicates,” Johnson said. “I bring up his name a lot when I’m talking to our big guys.”
On the move
For a franchise long known for its volatility, the move to Brooklyn has been a panacea for the Nets.
Now, they’re looking forward to an era where consistency is the rule, not the exception.
“Since I’ve been here, whether it’s been free agency or the start of the season all the way to the trade deadline, you’re always trading for somebody. Especially the ones where the trade is imminent,” Johnson said. “We don’t have any of those rumors about our team right now.
“This is our team. We can just build. Guys can just know, ‘Hey, I’m here.’ Obviously [general manager] Billy [King] has a job to do to continue to improve our roster, but you’re right. It does feel stable and hopefully guys feel comfortable enough where they can just play basketball, and we can watch other teams [that] are involved in different rumors and different situations.”
Follow Nets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.