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(November 15, 2013)
BROOKLYN—The most commonly heard word around the Brooklyn Nets in the first six weeks of this season has been, “Process.”
It was Coach Jason Kidd’s personal mantra, one based in his Zen-like patient persona. Kidd knows that the melding of stars, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry, with returning starters, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, would take time.
He knew that as a new coach, with a new staff, the gelling of this team could take time. And early on, it did.
But as the season makes the turn from November to December the Nets need to segue from process to performance. After returning home from a grueling three-game West Coast road swing, the schedule is primed for the Nets to make a move.
Five of 22 games are against Atlantic Division opponents, including the first showdown with the Boston Celtics, where KG and Pierce ruled for years.
The Nets host the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 18 (7:30 p.m.; YES) in what we shall call the Brooks Brothers Battle. Nets center Brook Lopez goes up against his brother Robin in a family feud.
Then it’s on the road for games on Nov.20 (7 p.m.; YES) and Nov. 22 (8 p.m.; YES) against the Charlotte Bobcats and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
While Bobcats have been a downtrodden franchise, the Timberwolves have one of the best interior players in Kevin Love. Love and KG, who began his career in Minnesota, might get some one-on-one time although love will not be in the air.
Schoolchildren have a great chance to catch the Nets on Nov. 24 (2 p.m.; YES) in a Sunday afternoon matinee at Barclays Center against the Detroit Pistons. Then the Nets head to Toronto for a Nov. 26 (7 p.m.; YES) against the Raptors.
The Nets will then get their first look at a couple of Western Conference powers. The Lakers come to town on Nov. 27 (7:30; YES) for their only appearance of the season here. The Lakers still are waiting on the return of Kobe Bryant (Achilles heel) but the purple and gold always get the heart racing.
If the Nets do make it to the NBA Finals, there’s a good chance they’ll face on of these two teams: The Houston Rockets, with center Dwight Howard, host the Nets on Nov. 29 (8:00 p.m.; YES).
And in what will likely be as grueling a back-to-back as the Nets face this season, they head from Houston to Memphis where the physical Grizzlies await on Nov. 30 (8:00 p.m.; YES).
Yes, Lopez faces Howard and Marc Gasol on back-to-back nights. And you thought it was cool to be a 7-footer.
Brooklyn opens the month of December on the 3rd (7:30 p.m.; YES) with a home game against the Denver Nuggets. Kidd faces a fellow first-year coach in Brian Shaw.
The first round of the Battle of New York will fought on Dec. 5th (7:00 p.m.; TNT) when the Knicks come to Barclays Center. Passions will be running high on the court and in the stands.
It was Knicks sixth man J.R. Smith who said the Knicks would play for the championship. Terry, showing he had a keen understanding of New York hoops, said the only championship the Knicks would play for would be at the legendary Rucker Park.
The Nets hit the road for their first away game of the month on Dec. 7 (8:30 p.m.; YES) when they face the Bucks in Milwaukee. They’ll get their first look at Nate Wolters, the rookie from South Dakota State who is taking the league by storm.
KG 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 arrived in 2008, teamed with Pierce and Ray Allen to win the NBA title.
The two future Hall of Famers can’t burn all of their emotion 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.
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 Cenrer. 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 that will pit Williams against Derrick Rose. Consider this game is a present under the Christmas tree for NBA fans.
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 day 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.
If November was a month for process, December needs to be a month of production.