Jason Kidd led the New Jersey Nets to the playoffs six times, including two Eastern Conference Championships in 2002 and 2003. Here is a look at that history as he coaches his first playoff series for the Brooklyn Nets.
2002: Eastern Conference Champions, lost in The Finals
The Nets were the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and drew the Indiana Pacers in the first round. The series went the distance, and the deciding Game 5 was a classic, as Reggie Miller tied the game on a three-pointer at the end of regulation and a leaping dunk at the end of overtime. The Nets won in double overtime 120-111, but Miller’s heroics are the lasting memory of that night. Miller had 31 points on 10-for-13 from the field and 6-for-14 from behind the arc, while Kidd had 31 points, 7 assists, and 8 rebounds.
The Nets then beat the Charlotte Hornets in five games in the second round.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Nets played the Boston Celtics, who were led by Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, and ex-Net Kenny Anderson. Game 3 was a classic, as the Celtics came from 21 points down to stun the Nets and take a 2-1 lead in the series. The Nets came back to win the next three games to take the series. They clinched it in Game 6 in Boston, as Kidd responded to some hecklers with a triple-double of 15 points, 13 assists, and 13 rebounds.
The Nets were swept in The Finals by the Los Angeles Lakers, who won their third straight championship with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
2003: Eastern Conference Champions, lost in The Finals
The Nets won the Atlantic Division for the second straight season, but were the second seed in the playoffs. They beat the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round in six games, and took care of the Celtics in the second round with a sweep. The series with Boston was a rematch of the prior year, but the Celtics were very overmatched this time, with the great J.R. Bremer (you have to be a fanatic to remember him) at point guard.
The Nets then swept the top-seeded Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Confernce Finals, clinching it at home this time with a 102-82 blowout. Kidd had 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists in Game Four.
The Nets faced the San Antonio Spurs in The Finals and the first four games went back-and-forth, with the Nets tying the series with a 77-76 win in Game 4 on June 11, 2003. An interesting piece of New York sports history overshadowed the win, as the Yankees were no-hit by six Houston Astros pitchers.
The Spurs came back to win Game 5 in New Jersey 93-83, as the Spurs were led by Tim Duncan with 29 points and 17 rebounds. San Antonio won it in Game 6 back at home, 88-77, and they were led by Duncan, who had a triple-double with 21 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists. The Admiral, David Robinson, had 13 points and 17 rebounds in his last career game.
2004: Lost in Second Round
The 2003-04 season was tumultuous, as the Nets fired Head Coach Byron Scott halfway through the season as they were 22-20. The rumor was Kidd forced management to fire Scott and have Lawrence Frank become the head coach (what a difference a decade makes as Kidd forced Frank out this season as his lead assistant.
With Frank at the helm, the Nets surged and went 25-15 down the stretch to win their third straight Atlantic Division title. As the 2nd seed in the playoffs, the Nets swept Stephon Marbury and the Knicks in the first round.
In the second round, they had a rematch with the Detroit Pistons, who were the three seed, but had home court advantage as they had a better record than the Nets at 54-28 to New Jersey’s 47-35. The Nets took a 3-2 lead in the series with a big 127-120 win in Detroit, as Kidd had 16 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. Detroit took Game 6 in New Jersey, 81-75 to bring it back to Motown. In Game 7, they blew out the Nets 90-69, and the reason is because it might have been Kidd’s worst game as a Net. Kidd was held scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting and 0-for-3 from behind the arc, with 7 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Detroit went on to upset the Lakers who that season brought in Karl Malone and Gary Payton to join Shaq and Kobe.
2005: Lost in First Round
The Nets had a tough season, as they went 42-40 and got the eighth seed in the playoffs. They were swept in the first round by the Miami Heat, who were led by Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. Wade, who was in his second season in the league, had 26.3 points, 8.8 assists, and 6.3 rebounds per game in the series. Shaq had 18.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in the series. The Nets also could not keep up with the Joneses, as Eddie Jones averaged 16.5 PPG and Damon Jones averaged 16.3 PPG.
2006: Lost in Second Round
The Nets won the Atlantic Division title again with a record of 49-33. They were the third seed in the playoffs and beat Indiana in six games in round one. In the second round, they ran into the Heat for the second straight year, and the result was the same as in 2005. They lost in five games. Dwyane Wade averaged 27.6 points, 6.6 assists, and 6 rebounds per game. It shows how strong Miami was that year, which ended in their first championship, that they beat the Nets in five games despite Vince Carter averaging 30.2 points-per-game and Richard Jefferson averaging 20.6 ppg. Kidd also had a great series, as he averaged 16.8 points, 9.0 assists, and 7.8 rebounds per game.
2007: Lost in Second Round
This playoff most resembles this year, as they were the sixth seed against the Atlantic Division Champion Toronto Raptors. The focus was all on Vince Carter, who left Toronto two years prior on not the best of terms. Carter responded to the heckling with a big performance in Game 1, as he got 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists to lead the Nets to a 96-91 win. Richard Jefferson had 28 points, while Kidd had 8 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds. That set the tone for the series and the Nets won it in six games.
In the second round, they faced LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs jumped out to a 3-1 series lead, and the Nets kept the series alive with a Game 5 win in Cleveland. The Cavaliers shut down the Nets in Game 6, winning it 88-72. LeBron had 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Kidd had 19 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals in what would turn out to be his last playoff game as a Net. He was traded to Dallas the following season at the trade deadline. Kidd won the NBA title in 2011 as a big part of the Mavericks team that knocked off the Heat.