Deron Williams has to feel the worst of anyone, but it really was a team-wide collapse in the final minutes of the game if we are going to be completely honest. The missed free throw by Paul Pierce with 1:56 to play, or the Kevin Garnett missed layup with no one on him with 1:30 left or even the horrible Swiss cheese defense that allowed John Salmons to walk into the lane with the Nets up three points with 20 seconds to play. Williams did indeed have the two worst turnovers of the final minute, with a brain-lock turnover trying to force it to Pierce, who was white-hot, but got lucky with a charge call and the absolutely devastating turnover, where he committed a cardinal sin by throwing a weak pass into the backcourt away from his own basket, only to be intercepted and a jumper hit the other way to miraculously lose the game.
So after all this, the question on every Nets fans mind is simply: How will the Nets respond?
The Nets will be hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night, traveling to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night and then hosting the Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday and Thursday nights in the next week. Those are the top three teams in the NBA record wise with two being played in your building. Not a great week for any team let alone one that has been on a roll, 10-2 in January, and just literally handed a division game to the team they are chasing in the standings in the most crushing of ways.
This is the NBA and usually you can forget a bad loss pretty quickly, with games scheduled so close together, but this loss came at maybe the worst time for the Nets. They will have had four days to think about it and hear about it until they take the court on Friday night against the best team in the league with the NBA's hottest player in Kevin Durant. The Thunder have won eight in row going into tonight's matchup in Miami and we can hope it goes into triple-overtime and Durant plays 70 minutes before showing up at Barclays Center.
One player to keep a close eye on is Williams to see if he has any lingering affects from his mishaps in the loss to the Raptors. The Pacers continue to win rather easily and the Spurs are exactly that - the Spurs so it is going to be a rough road this next week for sure.
Regardless of who Brooklyn would be playing next it was going to be a test to see if this veteran laden team can man up and play like the confident and stingy team of January or the lackadaisical and effortless team of the first two months. Friday and Saturday night should tell us a lot more about the status of this team and if they can compete with the big dogs of the NBA right now.