You want your team to believe in itself, believe it can beat anyone — especially if you are the Brooklyn Nets, a team with a one (two tops) year title window with this core.
Having them say it publicly, that’s something else entirely.
Deron Williams did just that speaking with ESPNNewYork.com in advance of the Nets hosting the Heat Friday night.
“I don’t know if we felt we were a better team than the Heat last year,” Williams said during a sitdown with first-year Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd for ESPN’s “SportsCenter” conversation. “And so I think in order for us to be able to beat them this year, we have to feel like we are a better team and we can beat them. And I think we do.”
What did you expect him to say?
Here’s the thing — this game means far more to Brooklyn and their building of a team identity than it does Miami. Brooklyn needs to believe they can beat the Heat. Miami is the championship bar to clear now, Brooklyn has to think they can clear it.
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On the other side, the Heat know who they are and what they have to do to win another title, and they know a November win or loss to Brooklyn matters no more than the opening night win over Chicago or loss the next day in Philadelphia. For the Heat there are no statement games in November.
Brooklyn may not see it that way.
“I think it will definitely be a statement game,” center Brook Lopez said Thursday. “It’s going to be a great benchmark for us. We absolutely believe we’re capable of competing with them and that’s something we’re going to want to be doing down the line, obviously, in the playoffs. So we’re definitely anticipating a high-energy, important game.”
In the end, the outcome of a game in November is an incredibly poor predictor of what could happen if these teams meet in the playoffs. But for a Brooklyn team trying to believe it matters a little more.