During every season, there are certain games or stretches when you find out the character of your team, and how mentally strong you are. We’ve had a few games in recent weeks where the character of our team really showed itself.
The most recent example was Wednesday night in Miami, but there have been others. In Houston a couple weeks ago, we were down big at the half. On Monday night at home against the Atlanta Hawks, we were down double digits in the first half as well.
In any of those games, it would have been easy to take the rest of the night off and say, “We’ll get the next one.” But we just continued to fight back, and tried to give ourselves a chance to win each time.
And win is what we did.
As far as Wednesday night in Miami goes, I think we just settled down. At the beginning of the game, everybody was worked up and excited. We wanted to play well and win. Once we settled down, we were able to find a nice rhythm that we could sustain for the rest of the night.
My success in that game was just a by-product of how well we played as a team. That’s always been the type of situation I’ve enjoyed being in the most. When the team is playing well, the ball is moving, everybody is involved and making the right pass at the right time. That always plays right into the way I enjoy playing the most.
It always helps to see the first one go in, especially for a guy like myself who isn’t going to see a high volume of shots. Knock a few in a row down early, and there’s a rhythm that you feel like you have already. That makes it easier to sustain.
At the same time, if the first couple don’t go in, you still have to have the confidence that each time you’re open and it’s the right shot, you have to take it without hesitation and knock it down.
Any way they come, I’ll take them. But it’s always good to see the first one or two go in.
It’s a game-by-game situation. Some nights you feel going into the game that you have a great rhythm going. You’re feeling good and you’re in a great place. There are other nights when it just happens during the game, and you find a rhythm as the game progresses.
I felt pretty great going into that game, but I think it was the way we played as a team that fed into it the most.
Mickey and Nick Arison, the owner and CEO of the Heat, were sitting courtside for the game. There was a play in the second half where I thought I got fouled. Nick made a comment that he didn’t agree. I made the fifth three shortly thereafter and kind of looked at him and smiled, just to tell him that I didn’t forget what he was saying about that earlier play.
THE NEW LOOK NETS
Tonight will be my first time playing in Brooklyn against the Nets.
I can remember playing the Nets in the Early 2000s when they were making runs to the Finals in New Jersey. There is definitely a different feeling around that team and organization now than there was back then.
I haven’t played in the Barclays Center yet, but just from the outside, you can tell this is a new phenomenon that isn’t necessarily connected to the Nets of the past. The way the city of New York feels about the team is just so different. I think there’s a different feeling around the league about them as well.
If you look at their roster and the cast of characters that they have as part of the organization now, I don’t think you have a choice but to look at them differently. They’ve assembled an interesting team over there.
Any time you put that many star players on a roster, the toughest part is finding the right chemistry and balance. You have to develop the way you’re going to play offensively. You have to determine which guys are going to be the guys who you run your offense through. Then you have to figure out which of those star guys have to take a backseat and a role that maybe they’re not accustomed to taking.
For a guy like Paul Pierce, who spent his whole career up to this point in Boston to become a part of another organization, just that change alone is a big adjustment, even if his role were the same. Kevin Garnett wasn’t in Boston as long, but he had become part of the fabric of the city because of the success they had while he was there.
Any time you leave an organization where you’ve had so much success and won a championship to be a part of another organization, it’s a big change.
It’s not easy to find chemistry whether you have superstars or not. That’s the challenge of becoming a champion — finding that chemistry and balance. But I think it’s a little more difficult when you have a number of guys who are accustomed to having everything fit around them, and aren’t used to fitting themselves into a role.
Both Paul and Kevin are being asked to do different things than they were when they were in Boston over the last five or six years. I don’t think it’s a matter of not being physically capable of doing those same things they did with the Celtics. They’re just not asked to do those things in Brooklyn because they have guys like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez before he got hurt. Andray Blatche has had a heck of a season, Shaun Livingston is a great story and has played well. They have Jason Terry, Alan Anderson, Andrei Kirilenko — the list goes on and on.
They’re a deep team. So I think Paul and Kevin are doing what they feel the team needs for them to do to be successful. The way that they’re playing this last month or so, you have to believe that they know what they’re doing.
You definitely have to make sacrifices, but when these teams struggle, I don’t think it’s because guys aren’t willing to sacrifice. If it was just about that, star players wouldn’t join the same team. Most guys are willing to sacrifice, at least on the surface.
But there’s a way that it needs to happen so that the chemistry and balance of the team still allows for the ultimate success of winning a championship. The type of coaching, the type of system, the type of players you surround those guys with — all those things factor into it.
They have strong leadership. Deron Williams has the skill set necessary to be one of the top 10 players in the league, and there’s no question that when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best in the business. Having played with Deron early in his career, I can tell you that he’s a great guy, he’s not afraid to work hard and he loves to compete. Putting all those things together is a great combination for success. He has a bright future in front of him as long as he continues to keep his health a priority.
Jason Kidd is obviously only halfway through his first season as a coach, and becoming great at anything takes time. But I think he’s already shown the ability to keep himself focused on the big picture, even as they struggled out of the gate. Now that they’re playing a lot better as a team, I’m sure he’s feeling more confident as a coach, and their team’s confidence has continued to grow right along with that.
Jason’s playing career speaks for itself in terms of what he was able to accomplish individually and with his teams, being an Olympic champion and NBA champion with the Mavericks. That speaks to his ability to lead, and to manage egos and personalities. He obviously has a good feel for the game of basketball. What he’s doing now is essentially what he was doing as a player. For those reasons, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him find great success as a coach.
To see guys like Jason Kidd, Brian Shaw, Mark Jackson and Tyrone Corbin — guys I used to play with and play against every night — coaching teams, it’s great because they deserve the opportunities.
But it’s also pretty surreal for me to think about how everything has come full circle over the course of my career. It’s a good reminder of how fortunate I am and how thankful I should be to still be in the game, on a good team, with a bunch of great teammates as all these changes and things are happening around the league.
THANK YOU FOR READING
Launching this blog has been a pretty eye-opening and enjoyable experience for me. The goal when I set out to do this was to share these thoughts that I have with fans and other people who love the game. It’s been great getting to share those things with all of you. But I really had no idea how people would feel about it, the response I would get and whether folks would enjoy it or not.
I’m happy to say I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who have enjoyed reading the blog. It’s always pretty refreshing to see people reading it and enjoying things coming from me that they hadn’t been accustomed to seeing before in the past. I’m really appreciative of the positive feedback, and I hope you all continue to enjoy it.