Shaq, Sir Charles are high on the Nets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, a pair of MVPs turned TNT analysts, are both extremely high on the Brooklyn Nets heading into the 2013-14 season.

“I think if Brooklyn stays healthy, they can give Miami a run for their money,” O’Neal told reporters Monday.

“The Nets are going for it this year, boy. The Nets are going for it this year,” Barkley said, adding that “we could have a Nets-Clippers finals ... that’d be amazing.”

The Nets kick off the regular season Wednesday night in Cleveland.

They made several upgrades in the offseason, adding Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko to a nucleus that already included Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.

“I mean that’s how we feel as well,” Lopez said when told of Shaq’s comment. “It’s great to hear it from the outside, but we’re confident in ourselves.”

“I think that’s a great compliment, so thanks, Shaq,” first-year coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s very kind words.”

Kidd’s transition from player to coach is one of the team’s question marks heading into the season. Chemistry and health are others.

“I think we can’t concentrate on the Heat and beating the Heat only,” Kirilenko said. “There are so many great teams in the NBA right now. The Clippers did a great job improving their roster. I think Chicago with Derrick Rose back, Indiana they didn’t lose anybody and gained (Luis) Scola. I think there’s a few teams getting stronger, so we can’t concentrate on the Heat and forget about everybody else.”