Then came a modest but intriguing four-game winning streak. That was broken by a loss to the Boston Celtics on Dec. 4. The Nets haven't lost since.
With Kevin Durant playing as well as ever and Kyrie Irving back on the court, the Nets have won 12 in a row. They've gone from everyone wondering if they'd start trading off pieces to a half-game behind the Celtics for the best record in the NBA.
The franchise record for a winning streak is 14 in a row, back when the team was in New Jersey, and Brooklyn has a shot at it. The last month has been fantastic for the Nets. Over the last 30 days, Irving is averaging 29.3 points per game and Durant is averaging 28.8. They're fully leaning into their two superstars. But other players like center Nic Claxton and forward T.J. Warren have been playing very well in secondary roles. You don't hear a lot about Ben Simmons lately, but he's doing everything but scoring for the Nets.
The Nets still aren't great on defense but they've been better, and the offense has been outstanding. It has all come together.
For a bit this season, after Durant's offseason trade request and Irving's off-court controversy, it looked like this Durant era of Nets basketball would produce just one series win before it broke apart. After the past month, this team winning a championship is back on the table.
Here's a look at the rest of the sports betting slate:
A nearly full night in the NBA
There are 12 NBA games on the schedule, with some pretty good ones. Giannis Antetokounmpo's hot streak has been overshadowed by Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Donovan Mitchell and others, but he's coming off a career high 55 points on Tuesday night. The Milwaukee Bucks take on the Toronto Raptors, and Toronto is a 3.5-point favorite. We'll see if Antetokounmpo plays on the second part of a back-to-back. He has scored at least 43 points in three straight.
After Milwaukee-Toronto on ESPN, the second part of the doubleheader is the Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers. The Heat are 5.5-point favorites. The Lakers are trying to stay afloat until Anthony Davis returns from injury. They have covered the spread in three of their last four.
Good college basketball night
There's plenty of college basketball on Wednesday as the sport is well into conference play. There are two games between ranked teams. No. 20 Missouri, which is 12-1, plays at No. 13 Arkansas. Arkansas is favored by 7.5, but Missouri has been good all season, other than one terrible performance against Kansas.
The other game between ranked teams is No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Baylor. TCU didn't look great early in the season but has won 10 in a row. Beating Baylor on the road would be by far the Horned Frogs' best win this season. Baylor is coming off a loss to Iowa State, but Scott Drew has another balanced, strong team. Baylor is favored by 5.5 points.
Just 3 NHL games
What's the best bet?
While I like riding a winning streak, the Nets spread is a little too high for me. Instead let's go to the college game and take Wake Forest as a 10.5-point underdog at North Carolina. UNC's struggles after being preseason No. 1 have been one of the biggest stories of the season. The Tar Heels showed signs of a turnaround but then lost to Pitt. Wake Forest has some bad losses but also back-to-back wins against Duke and Virginia Tech. I think it can keep it within double digits.