Sunday, March 7, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

Heading into the 2009-10 NBA season, Sports Illustrated predicted the Nets would finish with the 13th (out of 15 clubs) best record in the Eastern Conference. The writers tapped the Kings (3 times), Bucks and Grizzlies as the teams most likely to finish with the worst record in the Association. The anonymous writer behind the Nets preseason SI scouting report wrote that "I don't think they can win 30 games but they have a nice young core."

Although there was no illusion that the swamp dwellers were playoff bound, I don't get the impression that this writer thought that the club was capable of challenging the least hallowed record in hoops : the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers ignominious single-season mark of 9-73.

But, they are. The losses are piling up at the Izod Center quicker than cars on the nearby turnpike during rush hour. Yet, if the 2009-2010 Nets stave off historical significance then they will have the New York Knicks to thank. With their 113-93 win over the Knicks on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, the Nets have split a four-game season series with their crosstown rivals. The team that can't seem to beat a drum have managed to go 2 and 2 against Mike D'Antoni's club.

During the '72-'73 Sixers run at posterity, they won nine games. They beat Houston, Buffalo, Kansas City, Seattle, Milwaukee, Detroit, Portland, Baltimore and New York. They did not beat any team twice even though they played in an 18-team Association and got as many as eight cracks at a single club. The '09-'10 Nets have thus far beaten Charlotte, Chicago, New York, the Clippers, Charlotte, Boston and New York. They've got seven wins already and 19 chances left to win three more games and avoid being the worst team ever.

As of today, though, one of the least successful professional basketball teams ever to play in the NBA has played even with the Knicks and notched 29 percent of their win total at New York's expense. On the bright side, the Knicks' twin losses to the lowly Nets are certainly embarrassing they may not be as costly (unless, of course, we're talking about that 2010 draft pick that we're shipping to Utah) as the pair accrued by Larry Brown's Bobcats squad, which is fighting for No. 8 seed in the East.