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Jim Mancari,

It certainly has been an interesting beginning to the Nets’ tenure in Brooklyn.

A roaring start was followed by a terrible stretch resulting in the firing of Avery Johnson. P.J. Carlesimo looked like he was the savior of the franchise, but an inconsistent stretch recently has brought the team back down to earth at the break.

The key word here is “inconsistent.” The Nets have gone through stretches of playing great basketball but then sometimes look lost on the court.

Brooklyn has handled all the weaker teams for the most part without a problem but has struggled in a few contests against the league’s better teams.

The Nets were blown this season three times by the Heat, twice by the Spurs and once each by the Knicks, Celtics, Bucks, Hawks, Grizzlies and Rockets – all of which are some of the better teams in the NBA.

“I think we’re a little hard to figure at this point,” Carlesimo said of his team’s first-half performance. “I don’t think we’ve settled into what we are. I would like us to be more consistent. The biggest way to see that for me would be to have less blowout losses.”

If the Nets want to be placed in the upper echelon of teams in the league, they have to start consistently beating these opponents, or at least not get blown out of the water.

But as bad as some of those losses have been, the Nets have also earned some quality wins over the Clippers, Knicks, Thunder, Pacers, Bulls and Nuggets.

Brooklyn sits at 31-22 at the break. Carlesimo said that it’s the goal of every good team to have at least 30 wins by the All-Star break, and the Nets achieved that goal.

“We have to get out of this having a good stretch and then having a bad stretch,” Gerald Wallace said. “We have to get more consistent. We understand that we’re not going to win every game, but we have to be more consistent in our offense and our defense and play better as a team.”

The last two wins over the Pacers and Nuggets right before the break bode well for the final 30 games, especially since the team managed victories without Deron Williams. The Nets played team basketball and earned their rest over the next few days.

“These two games were a great microcosm of what we should expect in the second half of the season,” Brook Lopez said.

“I’m still trying to figure us out, but it goes to show that when we come to play, we’re pretty hard to beat,” Wallace said.

Carlesimo said that teams like the Heat, Thunder and Spurs have played together for a few years and have been able to build the on-court chemistry necessary for successful teams. As a result, it becomes easier to predict how these teams will do over the course of the season and in the playoffs.

“This is a new roster,” Carlesimo said about the Nets. “Anytime you have a new roster, you’re going to have what we’re having right now.”

So even after 53 games, the identity of this team has yet to be formed, Carlesimo said. Maybe a trade will further shake up the dynamic of the team, but if the Nets can play consistent basketball, they are a force in the Eastern Conference.

“We’re a work in progress for sure,” Carlesimo said. “There are a lot of things I can accentuate positively, but I just don’t think we’re to the point yet where we’ve proven we can be consistent for a long time.”

The search for consistency resumes with four tough games coming out of the break against teams over .500. Brooklyn starts the second half with a home-and-home series against the Milwaukee Bucks, who have given the Nets fits in the recent past.

“We need to come out of this break and make a run,” Wallace said.

With the Atlantic Division lead in clear sight, another strong stretch by the Nets can turn the team from pretenders to contenders. Then again, an inconsistent stretch to start the second half would cloud all the positive strides the team has made in its first Brooklyn season.

Jim Mancari is a Contributor to Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.

Tags: spurs, avery johnson, all star break, Columns, brook lopez, nets, Brooklyn Nets, heat, pj carlesimo, gerald wallace
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