Starting Five: Nets hurtin' to stay healthy

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
6:00
AM ET
This is going to be tough.

The Brooklyn Nets are trying to win the Atlantic Division, but they can’t seem to stay healthy.

At the beginning of their six-game, 11-day circus road trip, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson were dominating in Utah.

But by the end of it, Williams and Johnson were both sitting on the bench as Marcus Thornton closed things out in Milwaukee.

Williams, it appeared, was just getting healthy. Then he hurt his right forearm early in the second quarter Saturday night, and went just 3-for-12 from the field after a 3-for-4 start.

Johnson, meanwhile, has reportedly been dealing with a severely jammed ring finger on his right hand. No wonder he’s shooting just 32.1 percent in his past five games.

Thornton (25 points), of course, was able to step up, playing the role of a spark-plug scorer scouts said the Nets desperately needed.

Likewise, Andray Blatche (19 points, 13 rebounds) stepped up in the absence of Kevin Garnett (back spasms).

GM Billy King’s moves to bring in added depth -- whether it was signing Shaun Livingston, re-signing Blatche, bringing in Andrei Kirilenko or adding Livingston -- have been huge.

Still, as has been written on this blog several times before, the Nets are eventually going to need their big-money players to play like big-money players -- and that means most of the time, not just some of the time.

Veteran experience is what many believe gives the Nets a puncher’s chance to contend with a Miami or Indiana in a best-of-seven playoff series.

But will these veterans be able to make it into the postseason with their health?

As the Nets open up a stretch of four of their next five games at Barclays Center, it’s sure going to be a delicate balancing act for Nets coach Jason Kidd.

Question: How concerned are you with the health of guys like Williams, Johnson and Garnett? Let us know in the comments section below.

In case you missed it: Jason Collins makes his home debut Monday night against the Chicago Bulls.

Stat of the day: Since losing to Chicago Christmas Day, the Nets are 11-2 at home, the second-best home winning percentage in that time frame.

Up next: The Nets host the Bulls Monday night at Barclays Center.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Joe Johnson
PTS AST STL MIN
16.7 3.8 1.0 34.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 8.0
AssistsD. Williams 6.8
StealsD. Williams 1.1
BlocksB. Lopez 1.6