Starting Five: Have injuries derailed Nets?

This is about health.

The Brooklyn Nets wanted to build their team around Deron Williams and Brook Lopez, arguably the best point guard-center tandem in the NBA.

But it’s hard to do that when they’re always hurt.

In 200 regular-season games since Williams made his Nets’ debut Feb. 25, 2011, the Nets are 55-45 when both D-Will and Lopez play in the same game and 32-68 when they don’t, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Nets GM Billy King often brings up depth and his team has a lot of it. Just probably not enough to make up for the prolonged losses of Lopez and Williams. But, really, what team would?

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein tweeted that the Portland Trail Blazers have used a season-low 82 different lineups (five-man combinations) this season. The Indiana Pacers, who just blew out the Nets, are third with only 128 different lineups. The Nets? They’ve used 240 different lineups in 27 games.

Seems there’s a correlation between lineups and records -- at least as far as those three teams are concerned.

The Nets aren’t just 9-18 because they’ve been hurt. Several other factors have played a role. But the fact their cornerstones have missed significant time -- and, in Lopez’s case, the rest of the season -- cannot be understated.

Question: How much of a factor do you think injuries have been in the Nets’ struggles? Is that a bad excuse or a legitimate one?

In case you missed it: Shaun Livingston made one Illinois family very happy last weekend. Kevin Garnett says the Nets lack an identity. Paul Pierce was fined $15,000. And Andrei Kirilenko may play Wednesday.

Merry Christmas! We know the Nets are struggling, but we appreciate your readership throughout the franchise’s latest trials and tribulations. We hope you are enjoying the holidays with your family, friends and loved ones. Thanks and have a great day.

Up next: Nets vs. Chicago Bulls on Wednesday at noon.