Nets Need a Healthy Williams to Contend

By David A.

The Brooklyn Nets seem to be enjoying the Big Apple, as they are in second place in the Atlantic division only two games behind the first place New York Knicks. The Nets are also in fourth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race and would have home court advantage if the season ended today.

One of the biggest reasons the Nets are playing well at this point of the season is Deron Williams is healthy. Before this season began, Brooklyn thought their backcourt was the best in the Big Apple – better than that of Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton of the Knicks. Of course, both Williams and fellow backcourt teammate Joe Johnson would have to be playing top notch basketball for that to hold true.

During much of the first half of the season, Williams has been nagged with numerous injuries. The most recent setback was a pair of sore ankles, which forced the guard to sit out the team’s last two games prior to the break for the All Star Game.

Johnson scored 24 points on Tuesday night against Milwaukee including hitting a three with just over a second left in the fourth quarter to push the game into overtime. Johnson then hit a jumper off balance as the buzzer sounded in OT to win the game for the Nets 113-111.

In the Bucks game, Williams scored 19 points, dished out nine assists, and did not limp during the game, but it was noticeable that he was missing his explosive first step. His defense suffered as he allowed Brandon Jennings to score 34 on the night, including 16 during a third quarter run by Milwaukee to get back into the game.

Both Johnson and Williams can easily be called Mr. Clutch. Johnson with the game on the line comes through game in and game out, while Williams is clutch for playing through injuries and still producing better than average numbers.

If Brooklyn wants to get the full potential out of their team and scare opponents during the playoffs, they must have Johnson play the way he did late in Tuesday’s game and Williams needs to play like the Deron Williams of before.

Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo has said he wants Williams to play less minutes but he had to keep him out there, as he was the only guard that could slow down the two Bucks’ guards and that happens more often than not.

Nevertheless, the as the deadline for trades approaches rumors are the Nets might get Josh Smith, but the question many Nets’ fans have is do they need to shake up the team at this point.

What the Nets need is Williams healthier and the player he was in Utah averaging over 21 points and close to 10 assists a night in 2010. The Nets surrounded him with talent and now all they need is to give him time to recovery from the nagging injuries, but a trade for Smith is not the answer.