Brooklyn Nets coach Lionel Hollins talking shop with Deron Williams (Bill Moore photo) (123984)

The Nets began the second half of their season by ending their three-game losing streak with road wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets. Their test of skills and resolve continues with three more road games against Western Conference teams—the New Orleans Pelicans last night (Wednesday) the Houston Rockets Friday and the Dallas Mavericks, a back-to-back, Saturday.

Returning home to Brooklyn won’t be any easier. Awaiting them will be the Golden State Warriors, Monday night’s game against the West’s one seed.

Their 10-day-long All-Star break should have been restful and sobering. They are currently 10 games under .500, with no players making it onto the All-Star roster and lacking potential trades for their nucleus, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, until seconds before the Feb. 19 deadline.

With that behind them, they traded Kevin Garnett to the Minnesota Timberwolves—the team that initially drafted him 20 years ago—in return for 27-year-old, 6-foot-8-inch forward Thaddeus Young. Young’s contribution is being immediately felt, scoring 15 points and 5 rebounds versus Denver in 23 minutes Monday night. In the 49 games he’s played with Minnesota this season, Young averaged 33 minutes, 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Brooklyn currently holds the eighth seed in the East. Some Net losses and a surge of wins by either the Detroit Pistons, the Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets or the Boston Celtics—who all currently have similar, less than .500 records as Brooklyn—could lower Brooklyn from that last playoff position.

The Miami Heat, barely holding onto the seventh seed, is now without Chris Bosh for the remainder of the season because of a lung infection. First LeBron James, now Bosh! Will they be able to hold on? Add Paul George’s possible return from a broken leg to the Pacers’ lineup in March, and you have as interesting a race for last place as you do for first.