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Monday, February 17, 2014
Starting Five: Start AK-47 vs. bigger clubs?

By Mike Mazzeo

The Brooklyn Nets, despite mostly flourishing with a smaller, longer lineup, have struggled facing bigger frontcourts.

With that in mind, does it make sense for Nets coach Jason Kidd to insert Andrei Kirilenko into the starting five against those types of teams (Indiana, Detroit, Chicago to name a few)?

Andrei Kirilenko
Would you like Andrei Kirilenko to start against bigger teams?
That would, of course, require (likely) removing Shaun Livingston, but it seems to make a lot of sense.

(Sure, Deron Williams perhaps would be the more logical choice, but he’s making a ton of money, so that’s not happening).

Against the Bulls Thursday night -- yes, this is an extremely small sample size -- the Kevin Garnett-Kirilenko two-man lineup was extremely effective in 12 minutes, positing a plus-40.9 net efficiency rating (123.7 points per 100 possessions for vs. 82.8 points per 100 possessions against).

According to the unofficial ESPNNewYork.com tally, the Nets outscored the Bulls 24-16 in those 12 minutes.

Obviously, and rightfully so, Kidd has placed a significant importance on making sure to conserve Garnett and Kirilenko’s minutes. KG is 37, while Kirilenko has already missed 29 games due to injury.

So Kidd would have to be careful in this type of scenario, making sure not to overexert either player.

But things haven’t been working, so why not change it up?

Moving Livingston back to the bench would prevent Kidd from having to go into Alan Anderson-Jason Terry survival mode if and when one of his two starters gets early foul trouble.

Livingston could then go back into the starting lineup against smaller starting fives.

Given Brooklyn’s struggles to rebound and defend bigger frontcourts, it makes sense to at least give a lock-down pairing like Garnett-Kirilenko a chance.

Question: What do you think about the idea? Let us know in the comments section

In case you missed it: Check out all of our All-Star coverage on the blog.

Up next: The Nets don’t play Game 2 of their seven-game road trip until Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz