Derrel Johnson, SNYNets.comNEW YORK — Before the Knicks and Nets did battle for the fourth time on Monday, I had the opportunity to catch up with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith.
I asked Mr. Smith his thoughts on the Brooklyn Nets as they approach the midpoint of the season.
"Well I'm pleasantly surprised by what I'm seeing from the with Brooklyn Nets. I think P.J. Carlesimo has them playing outstanding ball at this juncture, they're 11-2 under his stewardship. And obviously, he's got them playing together, he has them developing a rapport with one another and they've improved tremendously as a basketball team."
Smith later talked of the dismissal of former Nets coach Avery Johnson. "I don't think that Avery Johnson—we all know the man can coach the game of basketball—but at the same time sometimes you learn from the mistakes of your successor and it's not to say that is definitely or definitively was the case, but it is clear that it appeared as if Avery Johnson could have cultivated a better relationship with the players or they could have done a better job of cultivating a relationship with him."
Smith then went on to talk about the job that Carlesimo is doing. "P.J. Carlesimo seems to have learned from that sort of like peeling away some of the liabilities or impediments to it all and recognizing some of the benefits of what it was he had working under Avery Johnson. And, as a result, he has been able to duplicate and emulate some of the successful habits and get rid of some of the things that were otherwise not successful."
Smith closed of his assessment of the team's first half with the following remarks. "I think the Brooklyn Nets are doing what we thought they would do. They are being formidable, they're competing, they're a better than average team and we expect for them to be in the playoffs and that's the best you can hope from them right now."
While Smith's analysis of the team seems to be on track, I wouldn't blame Brooklyn Nets fans and the organization itself it they were dreaming of bigger goals. With the exception of the Miami Heat, there is no team in the Eastern Conference that the Nets may not be able to overcome. That was cemented yesterday with their win over the second-best team in the conference, the New York Knicks.