Don't lose hope if things don't look pretty after road-heavy November

Up 10 in the final minutes of Wednesday night’s game, the Nets let a winnable game slip out of their hands. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there are many left in the month of November.

Keep in mind the old adage “that’s why games aren’t played on paper.” We’ve also seen that these aren’t last year’s Nets. Still, even the most optimistic Nets fan has to admit that the first full month of the schedule is going to be a significant challenge for this up-and-coming bunch. Including the Charlotte contest, the Nets will play 10 of their 15 games away from home this month. Here’s a weekly breakdown of the Nets’ November schedule:

November 5-6

  • Friday, November 5: at Orlando
  • Saturday, November 6: at Miami

One mustn’t go far to start encountering the difficulties in the November schedule. Miami and Orlando have a really good chance to finish with the East’s top two records during the regular season. The Nets have already seen what the Heat are capable of; now they’ll have to face them as the second half of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, the Magic, coming off being thoroughly embarrassed at Miami last week, absolutely destroyed Minnesota on Wednesday night and prides itself on being “lower-tier” competition.

November 7-13

  • Tuesday, November 9: vs. Cleveland
  • Wednesday, November 10: at Cleveland
  • Saturday, November 13, vs. Orlando

The travel schedule eases up a bit on the Nets this week, as they get to enjoy two of their remaining four November home games. If the Nets are going to have a respectable month, they’d do well to sweep the home-and-home with Cleveland, but it’s tough to count on teams to perform up to par in any back-to-back situation, especially when there’s travel involved. Their pre-road trip going-away present is another matchup with Dwight Howard, Vince Carter and the formidable Magic.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - FEBRUARY 10: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Dallas Mavericks shouts instructions during their game against the New Jersey Nets at the Izod Center February 10, 2008 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

November 14-20

  • Monday, November 15: at LA Clippers
  • Wednesday, November 17: at Utah
  • Friday, November 18: at Sacramento
  • Saturday, November 19: at Denver

The nearly annual Thanksgiving West Coast swing, which the Nets historically haven’t handled all-too-well, happens a week early this year. There’s hope in the games against the Clips and Kings (the Nets have already defeated Sacramento this year), but Nets fans should be happy with any result on this trip that isn’t 0-4. Having to play in the altitude of Denver on the second half of the weekend back-to-back will test how well Avery Johnson’s bunch is conditioned early in the season.

November 21-27

  • Tuesday, November 23: vs. Atlanta
  • Wednesday, November 24: at Boston
  • Saturday, November 27: at Philadelphia

New Jersey gets two days off after its last game out west, but will return home to face another back-to-back, this time against two of the Eastern Conference’s best squads. The Nets will have Thanksgiving off, followed by a short trip down I-95 to play the Sixers in a game they should win if they’re looking to assert themselves in the Atlantic and the East.

November 27-30

  • Sunday, November 28: vs. Portland
  • Tuesday, November 30: at New York

The Nets will play the Northwest Division-leading Blazers the day after their matchup with Philly followed by their first look at the Knicks at the Garden (assuming there’s no asbestos floating freely).

There may not be much buzz surrounding the Nets after what shapes up to be a really tough month. But if the Nets can be road warriors and steal a few games from this tough trek, November could be the spring that launches a surprising season.

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