Friday, December 19, 2008

This Could Be Ugly

For reasons other than the 5”-6” of snow that have pelted the New York City area today, this could be a rough night in Jersey.

Tonight, Jason Kidd will square off against the New Jersey Nets for the second time, the first in New Jersey, since being traded to the Dallas Mavericks last February. He should get a fairly warm reception from the local fans, seeing as he was the catalyst for the Nets’ rise to respectability earlier in the decade, leading the franchise to consecutive NBA Finals appearances. It might be fair to say that Jason Kidd is the greatest player in New Jersey Nets’ history.

However, that may not be the only reason J-Kidd receives a standing ovation this evening. If his arrival was a breath of fresh air for the Nets, then his departure may have been CPR. Whether Kidd really wanted to be traded or not depends on who you ask, but his outstanding play (11.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 10.4 apg) in 51 games for the Nets last season allowed the Mavs to not only justify taking on his $20+ million per year contract, but to offer up Devin Harris and 2008 & 2010 1st round draft picks for the privilege of doing so. J-Kidd, the Nets really owe you one!

About a month ago, I wrote about how the Kidd-for-Harris swap already looked like a debacle for the Mavericks and was unlikely to get much better. And that was BEFORE the Nets won five of their next seven games, with Harris dropping 30+ three times in two weeks, including his ridiculous 47-point, 7-rebound, 8-assist destruction of the Phoenix Suns! The Nets have come back to Earth in December, winning only three of eight games thus far, but at 12-12, they’ve already got as many wins as many (myself included) thought they’d have by the All-Star break- not to mention the fact that the Nets’ record would have them just one game behind Dallas.

So, as Jason Kidd makes his return to East Rutherford to take on the Nets, all eyes will be on the point guard matchup, with rising star Devin Harris, one of the NBA’s fastest players, averaging nearly 24 points (on 46.9% from the field) and more than 6 assists per game, taking on fading star J-Kidd, whose 9.3 ppg scoring average is the worst of his career and 8.2 apg top only his rookie season. To be fair, Kidd is averaging an impressive 2.4 steals this season, but it’s impossible to make a case that Harris will one of his victims. Devin Harris may, for all intents and purposes, slam the door on the Jason Kidd era tonight.

If Harris’ youth and the obvious gulf in speed and quickness weren’t enough, it’s probably safe to assume that given the opportunity to show Dallas what it’s missing, he’ll be playing with quite a large chip on shoulder tonight. Look for something in the order of 35 points and 10 assists, and maybe an extra little burst of speed, from Harris tonight.

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