Stretching the Field: Where's the chemistry in Brooklyn?

( - Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett still had tread on the proverbial tires when they headed down the Northeast Corridor from Boston to Brooklyn this offseason.

Not that the Nets needed more ammunition after grabbing the fourth seed in last season's NBA playoffs, but Pierce and Garnett were supposed to make Brooklyn that much more competitive in the Eastern Conference.

If a 2-5 record is competitive, then a reality check is in store for you.

That may be too harsh so early in the NBA season, but what else were Nets fans expecting? Mr. Russian money bags Mikhail Prokhorov, who reminds me of the underrated Val Kilmer movie "The Saint" every time I hear his name, made the move to acquire Pierce, Garnett and even Jason Terry for players barely worthy of a mention.

You can't fault Prokhorov for making the moves because it fills empty seats at brand new Barclays Center and the Nets gave up three first-round draft picks, which will most likely come to use at the bottom of the round because Brooklyn still has Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Even Prokhorov's compatriot Andrei Kirilenko will come off the bench with Terry.

But so far all is not well in the 11217 area code.

As soon as the trigger was pulled on the blockbuster trade, the Nets became instant favorites to compete for one of the top three spots in the East. Makes sense. The Miami Heat experienced the same high expectations when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined forces with Dwyane Wade.

It even brought back memories of Celtics GM Danny Ainge, who landed Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside Pierce in Boston. And how did that work out for the Celtics? Well, the Boston Three Party captured the last NBA title for a city that will struggle for some time watching hoops.

At least the New England area has the Red Sox, Patriots and Bruins.

Brooklyn, though, has Boston's aging leftovers and it's uncertain when this band of brothers will develop chemistry. With a payroll north of $100 million, it's NBA Finals or bust for the Nets, who were predicted to compete with Miami, Indiana, Chicago and New York for a second straight season.

Not quite, however.

One can't blame the Nets for jumping at the chance to grab some players who can still make a difference even though they're past their primes. Nobody on the Nets pulled a Vince Young and called this unit a "dream team." It was pretty darn good a season ago with just Williams, Johnson, Lopez and Gerald Wallace. Wallace was one of the bodies sent to Beantown.

So how are those new faces in Brooklyn doing? Pierce is actually second on the team with 13.4 points per game and Garnett, who needs plenty of rest for those aging knees, is posting an average of 6.0 points, but a team-best 6.9 rebounds per game. Terry isn't the Sixth Man of the Year candidate he once was and is averaging 5.9 ppg.

Can the Nets find a way to work together and go on a tear? Sure, but it's going to take some time. Luckily they're in the Eastern Conference where teams with .500 records or worse actually have a chance to grab one of the last two or three seeds by early summer.

Brooklyn is currently on a three-game western jaunt and opened the trip with Wednesday's 107-86 loss at Sacramento. The Nets, who trailed by as many as 23 points in that one, are 0-5 this season in games which they've been outscored in the third quarter and winless on the road (0-4).

"There's a process that we have to go through," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said of the team's struggles. "This is something that you're going to go through as a team at some point in the season it just happens that we're going through it a little bit earlier than we expected."

Patience is a virtue.

Fans can't expect things to jell overnight and there are plenty of nights left for Brooklyn to coagulate and leave its disappointing start in the dust.