A Look Back on 2004-05
by Bob Considine
|The Nets made their fourth consecutive postseason appearance in 2005.|
(Jim McIsaac/NBAE/Getty Images)
Though New Jersey's season ended at home on May 1, after the completion of a 4-0 sweep by the much improved Miami Heat, in the first round of the NBA playoffs, it was still a pretty special season.
When you consider the team was mired at 12-24, endured major injuries to core stars Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson, and went through multiple personnel changes, reaching the postseason served as a crowning achievement for the Nets.
It was a superb 15-4 run in their final 19 games that earned the Nets a playoff berth for a fourth consecutive season and truly set the course for next season.
With in-season acquisition Vince Carter reclaiming his status as one of the NBA’s Top 10 players, Kidd recovering from serious knee surgery and reaffirming himself as the league’s top point guard and center Nenad Krstic rising among the top rookie ranks, the Nets basically put themselves in a position to rejoin the league’s elite teams in the 2005-06 season.
So much for a long transitional phase.
“Obviously, it ends in a tough way,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “But when you look at the big picture and a little bit in retrospect, it was very gratifying to see where we started back in the summer, to 12-24 to finishing 42-40.
Make no mistake, it was a bumpy ride at the start. Kidd, the Nets’ captain and catalyst, was still rehabilitating from microfracture surgery in his left knee and the team faltered without him, losing 12 of its first 15 games to start the season.
Kidd would make his well-anticipated return in a thrilling 88-86 win over the Toronto Raptors on December 6, feeding Jefferson for the game-winning basket with 7.1 seconds left.
Ironically, that would be the last time they saw Carter in a Toronto Raptor uniform. Just 11 days later, Nets President Rod Thorn would pull off one of the biggest coups in his storied leadership of the team – and what some say could ultimately be one of the biggest steals in NBA trade history. Thorn acquired Carter, the six-time All-Star, for veterans Alonzo Mourning, Eric Williams and Aaron Williams, as well as two first-round draft selections the team picked up from the Denver Nuggets last summer in the trade for Kenyon Martin.
It turned out to be the Nets’ watershed moment of the season and the biggest turning point of the franchise’s history since it acquired Kidd in the summer of 2000.