After back-to-back losses in California, some things are apparent for the Brooklyn Nets.
1. The improvement from previous years is clearly there and this is absolutely a playoff-caliber team.
2. As expected, the Nets are struggling to win close games down the stretch.
After making a bid to beat the Los Angeles Lakers -- something the team hasn't done since 2007 -- on Tuesday night, Brooklyn couldn't seem to hit a big shot when they needed to. Even with the Lakers' horrid statistics from the free throw line, the Nets were never able to put them away, and it cost them in the end.
Even in that loss to the Lakers, good things were displayed. The Nets had no problem attacking Dwight Howard, something they never did when he was in Orlando, and center Brook Lopez put together another dominant night. As the month of November has worn on, Lopez has gotten better and better by the game and he has proved that he wants to be one of the premiere big men in the league this year.
The Nets are also getting consistently good play off their bench. Guards C.J. Watson and MarShon Brooks are coming together nicely, and Andray Blatche has been the team's biggest surprise this early in the season.
The only thing Brooklyn has been lacking so far is a dominant game from its backcourt. Between Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, they haven't seem to be in-sync for an entire four quarters yet, and that's something that held the Nets back over this two-game stretch.
Against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, the Nets were on top of their game early, but were far from that late. After taking a double-digit lead in the first half, they cooled off in a bad way over the final two quarters and simply couldn't hit a big shot. That's the difference in the game.
The beauty of the NBA is that its a long season. The Nets have only played 10 games, and despite being 6-4, it's probably the most encouraging 10-game stretch the team has had in a decade.
So, with Brooklyn returning home this weekend, expect the Nets to look to get a streak going where they play consistent basketball for the next few months. If Williams and Johnson get on track and start playing together, as all-stars, watch out for the Nets. Seriously.