Pierce: Road trip 'a moment of truth'
February, 12, 2014
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce's Nets don't come home to Brooklyn until March 3.NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets bid bon voyage to Barclays Center on Wednesday night.
They won’t be back for 18 days -- the longest time between home games for the franchise since the 1984-85 season.
Yes, the circus is back in town, which means the Nets are headed out of town, embarking on a seven-game, 9,000-mile road trip -- the final six games coming after the All-Star break, five of those games taking place out West.
“When you’re on the road like that, you have to have a great sense of urgency,” Paul Pierce said. “You gotta know what’s coming and expect it to be tough. We haven’t been a great road team, so this is a moment of truth for us.”
The schedule breaks down as follows: Thursday at Chicago (26-25); Feb. 19 at Utah (18-33); Feb. 22 at Golden State (31-22); Feb. 23 at Lakers (18-34); Feb. 26 at Portland (36-16); Feb. 27 at Denver (24-27); and finally March 1 at Milwaukee (9-34).
“We feel like there’s a lot of winnable games for us,” said Pierce. “There’s gonna be some dogfights and we feel like we can come out over .500 after this trip.”
That would certainly be nice for a team that currently has an 8-15 away record.
“I think just game by game you’ve just gotta focus on taking one game at a time, one day at a time,” Shaun Livingston said. “Continue to get better and try to enjoy each other -- the camaraderie of it, that makes it easier. Two weeks is a long time, but I think if we’re enjoying playing with each other, practicing and working hard, it makes the time go by faster and easier.”
The Nets, who improved to 24-26 overall following Wednesday night’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, can move into the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings with a win Thursday night.
They are just three games behind the third-seeded Toronto Raptors with 31 games remaining.
And they intend to move up.
“Right now, once you get past the All-Star break, it’s the stretch run,” said Pierce. “We’ve got 31 games. There’s gonna be a lot of positioning going on in these last few weeks of the season, and we’ve gotta gather some momentum.
“Every game is crucial at this point. It can mean you going from the eighth seed all the way to the 3-seed. So each and every week, you’re going to see the standings moving up and down, and every game is important for us.”