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What to make of the Nets?

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As bad as the New Jersey Nets have been this year, I almost feel obligated to write about them now that they have won their 10th game of the season and won’t tie or break the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers’ NBA record of nine wins in a season.

The Nets have actually won three of four games (3-1 ATS), which is by far their best run of the season. The first two wins you almost could see coming, at home against terrible clubs in Detroit and Sacramento. And while New Jersey was a seven-point home ‘dog on Monday against the Spurs, a wise bettor should have jumped on New Jersey. After all, the Spurs announced early Monday that Manu Ginobili wouldn’t be playing, and San Antonio was coming off a tremendous weekend in beating Cleveland and winning at Boston. Even though San Antonio had won 14 in a row off the Nets, the letdown factor and zero days rest spelled a big trap.

So should you actually climb on the Nets’ bandwagon for the rest of the year now that they have shown a pulse? I would say no because, really, where is the motivation now that the record won’t happen? In fact, not that the players themselves care about this, a mini-winning streak would actually threaten the Nets’ once-stranglehold on the most ping-pong balls for the NBA draft lottery because the Minnesota Timberwolves have taken New Jersey’s place as the sorriest team in the league right now. Some Nets players did say following Monday’s win that they would use catching the Timberwolves and not finishing last in the league as motivation, but I can’t see them making up four games.

Plus the Nets have happened to catch some major breaks in their past three wins, as they played the Kings without Tyreke Evans, the Pistons without Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox (OK, not much there) and the Spurs without Ginobili, Tony Parker and Roger Mason (with Mason leaving injured before the half).

New Jersey seems likely to finish this week with losses to Phoenix and New Orleans but certainly could win at Washington on Sunday. Then they close at Milwaukee, vs. Chicago, at Indiana, vs. Charlotte (against which New Jersey has two wins) and at Miami. So New Jersey might actually get to 12 wins – which isn’t too bad after a 0-18 start.

And I would recommend to you early to jump on some Nets’ 2010-11 futures as far as win totals, which are bound to be low. New Jersey has a billionaire Russian owner ready to take over and make a splash, and the Nets have the cap room to potentially add two key free agents. Add them to center Brook Lopez (19.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG), who has 32 double-doubles this season and outplayed Tim Duncan on Monday, point guard Devin Harris (17.0 PPG, 6.9 APG) and a Top-4 draft pick and you might have something in Newark, which is where the Nets will move next season. In fact, I wonder if the Nets would choose Ohio State’s Evan Turner over John Wall if given the chance considering Harris is in place at the point.

Scary as it may sound for Knicks fans, but the future might be brighter across the river (and eventually Brooklyn) than it is in Manhattan

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