When the Nets assembled a star-studded roster worth $190 million in payroll and luxury-tax commitments last offseason, they weren’t expecting a season-long struggle to simply get over .500.
But after Wednesday’s 103-94 victory over the Grizzlies inside Barclays Center lifted the Nets (30-29) over the .500 mark for the first time this season, Brooklyn’s team finally looks capable of living up to its lofty preseason expectations.

“I think with the way we’ve been playing of late, since the All-Star break and since the turn of the new year, this is the Nets team I envisioned from the beginning of the season,” said Paul Pierce of his team, a winner of four straight, six of eight, and 20-8 since the start of 2014.

“Unfortunately it didn’t start out that way, but the way we’re playing now, I really like. When we move the ball, when we play unselfish, when we defend and we rebound, we’re a tough team to match up with for anybody.”

The Nets certainly have been a tough matchup for the Grizzlies and Bulls, who they easily dispatched Monday night, after spending close to three weeks away from Brooklyn.

The Grizzlies and Bulls are two of the six teams besides the Nets that have won at least 70 percent of their games since the start of 2014. But, as they did Monday night against Chicago, the Nets led Memphis (34-26) wire-to-wire, jumping out to an 8-0 lead that eventually ballooned into a 26-5 advantage on an Andray Blatche and-one with 3:30 left in the first quarter.

“The guys played great tonight,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “I thought the energy in the last two games was kind of like a playoff-type situation, playing two similar teams … big, physical, well-coached. I thought the guys played great.”

They did for most of the game, opening up that 21-point first quarter lead before pushing it all the way to 30 late in the third quarter after outscoring the Grizzlies 33-16 in the period. But in both the second and fourth quarters, the Nets’ bench allowed Memphis to get back into the game. They let what was a 27-point lead at the start of the fourth dwindle to nine late in the game, forcing Kidd to bring the starters back in.