"I said, 'Joe, you know what? This is going to be a tough season,'" Blatche said Monday. "Every time we hit that floor is going to be tough, because guys are going to come out there and bring their A-game, because of our team, because of who we are and what we represent and what we're trying to achieve, guys are going to come at us every game.
"We've got the bull's-eye. And we can't come out there with that type of energy. We came out there, after beating Miami, I guess we were feeling ourselves too much, so we came out there too relaxed. That's not us. We've got to come out there aggressive every game and with a lot of energy."
Heading into their fourth game of the season Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz, the Nets remain very much a work in progress. They are still trying to figure out how to play with one another. Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko are still trying to get healthy.
And they know they're going to get everyone's best shot on a nightly basis. That's what happens when you have a $190 million roster and championship aspirations.
"I knew it once we acquired KG [Kevin Garnett], Paul [Pierce], Jet [Jason Terry], Andrei [Kirilenko], Alan Anderson," Johnson said. "I knew that right then we were going to have a target on our back for whatever reason, so it's not a surprise to me. But it's just it is what it is at this point so we have to gear up and get ready regardless of who we're playing and bring our A-game every night as well."
Last season, the Nets finished 34-6 against below-.500 teams. The Jazz are a team projected to finish with one of the league's worst records.
The Nets (1-2) need to take care of business against Utah on their home floor Tuesday night and get back on track.
Blatche is glad the team got an early wake-up call.
"Yeah, definitely, so we can nip it in the bud now," he said. "I'm actually kind of happy it happened early, so we don't have to worry about this happening again."