BROOKLYN—In the 2003 holiday smash movie, ‘Love Actually', many of the characters tell each other that all they want for Christmas is you.
The Nets have their own spin.
All they want for Christmas is a healthy you, Deron Williams (ankle), and you, Andrei Kirilenko (back), and you, Jason Terry (knee), and you Paul Pierce (hand).
The Nets have endured more than their share of injuries – Brook Lopez also missed time with a sprained ankle – which partly explains the team’s 5-12 start.
The latest injury was the one suffered by Pierce. He sustained a broken bone in his right hand. He’s expected to be out 2-4 weeks. Just when the Nets got Lopez back, they lose Pierce.
“It’s been crazy," said Lopez.
Assuming no one else goes down, we might not see the Nets in their entirety until the calendar flips to 2014. The good news is that up until this point, no one is running away in the Eastern Conference.
If the Nets can begin playing .500 ball, there is no reason why they can’t finish in the upper half of the conference. If they can ever get everyone healthy, that is.
The Nets do have one thing going for them as 2013 closes out. They play 9-of-14 games in Barclays Center. Here’s a look ahead at December.
Kevin Garnett and Pierce will have an emotional experience for the ages on Dec. 10 (7:30 p.m.; YES) when the Celtics come to Barclays Center. It was in Boston that KG, when he arrived in 2008, teamed with Pierce and Ray Allen to win the NBA title. Pierce will be out with the hand injury making it that much harder to watch from the bench.
Garnett can’t burn all of his emotional energy against Boston because the L.A. Clippers, a favorite to win the Western Conference, comes to Barclays on Dec. 12 (8:00 p.m.; TNT).
The matchup between Deron Williams and Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul can’t be missed. We didn’t see the two stars go head to head when the Nets lost 110-103. Paul had 12 points and 13 assists.
After those two emotional slugfests, the Nets head to Detroit on Dec. 13 (7:30; YES) for the second half of a back-to-back. It will be as much as an emotional test as a physical one for Brooklyn.
The Nets get a chance to make a move in Atlantic Division by hosting Philadelphia on Dec. 16 (7:30 p.m.; YES) and Washington on Dec. 18 (7:30 p.m.; YES) before then heading to Philadelphia on Dec. 20 (7:30 p.m.; YES).
The Nets get a second crack at Indiana on Dec. 23 (7:30 p.m.; YES) when the Pacers return to Barclays Center. The Pacers handed the Nets a 96-91 loss on Nov. 9 in contest that felt like a playoff game.
Two nights later the Nets face another Eastern Conference power in Chicago. The Bulls come to Barclays Center for a Christmas Day (Noon; ESPN) showdown.
The Bulls are reeling from the loss of point guard Derrick Rose for a second straight season. Williams, who has been in and out with a sprained left ankle, empathizes with Rose.
"It's tough," said Williams. "I have been feeling sorry for myself with my injuries. I don't know what he is going through right now. Take a year off rehabbing, get back, he looked great out there, go down again with another season-ending injury. It's got to be tough for him. I'm praying for him, wishing him the best."
The Nets finish the month in grueling fashion. They host Milwaukee at Barclays Center on Dec. 27 (7:30 p.m.; YES). Then the Nets head to Indiana (7:00 p.m.; YES, NBATV) where the Pacers were 30-11 last season.
The month ends with a New Year’s Eve game (7:00 p.m.; YES) at San Antonio. The Spurs, of course, lost an epic seven-game series to the Heat in the NBA Finals last season.
The bad news is that the injuries continue to occur and a disheartening rate. The good news is the schedule provides some relief from the grind of travel.