We're going to try and make this an annual thing. So just like last year, here is my Nets' analysis one day after the NBA released its schedule.
It's hard to really know what to expect with so many new faces, what type of years Devin Harris and Brook Lopez will have without Vince Carter and whether Yi Jianlian will show improvement. Then again, we really didn't know what to expect from last year's team. That said, I predicted 34-38 wins last year, so I would pay attention here.
The Nets' open 2009-10 on Oct. 28 in Minnesota against Jonny Flynn, whom they coveted in the draft, and perhaps in former YES analyst Mark Jackson's coaching debut... and away they go.
Two of the Nets' first three games are against teams that had worse records than they had last season so that could be a good thing.
I could see the Nets winning their opener at Minnesota simply because they want to prove they can a win after all that will have been written and said about them. It will be the only time they're above .500 all season because they fall in Carter's return in the Oct. 30 home opener and then the following night in D.C., especially if Washington's Big Three are healthy.
Home games: Magic
Road games: At Minnesota, Washington
Not an easy month, but I could and probably will start each month that way.
They play only two teams that had worse records than the Nets had last year. Six of their first seven games are against teams that were in the playoffs last year, including three that won at least 54 games. Then they end the month with the annual Thanksgiving Week trip. Three of the four games are against teams that won at least 54 games and one is the defending champion Lakers.
If the Nets don't get some of those what you might consider toss-up games - at Charlotte, against Indiana, at Milwaukee, against the Knicks and at the Kings - the Nets could be out of the playoff race before December starts.
Home games: Nuggets, Celtics, Sixers, Pacers, Knicks
Road games: At Charlotte, Philadelphia, Orlando, Miami, Milwaukee, Denver, Portland, Sacramento, Lakers
Sixty percent of their games - or nine - are at home this month, but if the Nets play at the Meadowlands like they did last year it won't matter if 100 percent of their games are at home. Last year they played 10-of-16 in Izod in December and were 2-8 at home.
Just like last year, Jason Kidd returns in December, but the Lakers also make their only visit here. Our guess is the Lakers' Saturday night game draws a larger crowd than Kidd's Wednesday visit and the Nets won't stay in either game too long.
Overall, December is not a bad month, especially when you consider what lies ahead. The Nets could win some games (against Charlotte, Golden State, New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and Houston) and could steal a road game (at New York, Indiana). If they protect home it won't be as bad an end of 2009 as some might expect.
Home games: Mavericks, Bobcats, Warriors, Jazz, Lakers, T-Wolves, Rockets, Thunder, Knicks
Road games: At New York, Philly, Chicago, Toronto, Indiana, Charlotte, Detroit.
Not an easy month.
They open at home against Cleveland, have a tough three-game trip and tough four-game trip, with six of those road games against the West, including the Spurs, Hornets, Suns and Jazz. The one East road game is at Atlanta. The Nets have to lift their games and hope some of these teams take a night off because they see a "sure win" coming in.
Home: Cavaliers, Bucks, Celtics, Pacers, Clippers. Wizards, Sixers
Road: At Atlanta, New Orleans, San Antonio, Clippers, Phoenix, Golden State, Utah
Might be the toughest month, but once the trade deadline arrives and the Nets jettison most of their players they can play free and easy the rest of the way. That's how the Nets should play all the time since little is expected of them.
The Nets play at Boston twice and at Cleveland once. Put them down for three losses there. They also play at Toronto, which has improved, and won't have 19,000 people chanting "VC S*cks!" I will miss that. There are some winnable home games, but that's if the Nets embrace playing at home in front of 6,000 fans. Let's not use that as an excuse either if they lose.
Home games: Pistons, Bucks, Heat, Raptors, Grizzlies, Blazers, Wizards
Road games: At Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Charlotte, Boston
OK, this really could be their toughest month.
The Nets open at home against Carter and then LeBron before a five-game trip with stops in New York, Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Houston. (Some winnable games) They play seven of their last nine games of the month at home, but in there are the Raptors, Heat, Spurs and Suns. Looking at how April comes in and out it's possible the Nets will end the year on a long losing streak.
Home: Cavaliers, Magic, Hawks, Raptors, Heat, Kings, Pistons, Spurs, Suns
Road: At New York, Memphis, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Houston, Philadelphia, Chicago
Six of the Nets' final seven games could be against teams fighting for a playoff spot or seeding. The other game is against the Bucks. What will the Nets have left at this point mentally more so than physically? Coach Lawrence Frank will push them hard because he'll want to end the season - and perhaps his Nets' coaching career - on a good note.
Home games: Hornets, Bulls, Bobcats
Road games: At Washington, Milwaukee, Indiana, Miami
The Nets' two worst 82-game finishes were 17-65 and 19-63. They could challenge those, but our guess is they reach the 20-win mark. There are plenty of players in the final years of their contracts that could be playing to get paid and that will raise their games. So there's a reason for optimism.
But the way we see it the Nets probably will win a game or two here and there that wasn't expected and will lose several that we didn't foresee. Just keep this in mind....With the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft the Nets select John Wall of the University of Kentucky (if he comes out and if they keep it).
RECORD: 22-26 wins
Agree? Disagree? Don't care? (Wow, I saw a couple of you predict they'll win in the 30s and 40s. That's optimistic).
We're hearing the Nets will have something on their coaches by the end of the week. Roy Rogers, who is considering a four-year offer from Rutgers, is in Las Vegas at Tim Grgurich's camp, where Terrence Williams, Sean Williams and Chris Douglas-Roberts are participating. The Nets are talking to a candidate or two for the position left open by Brian Hill's departure.