Game Three Preview: Wolves at Nets in the Barclays Center
After the horrible aftermath in the New York area (and much of the Eastern seaboard) took away the Brooklyn Nets’ theatrical home opener against the New York Knicks to kick off the Brooklyn era properly, New York’s newest team finally debuted their new duds and domicile against the Toronto Raptors. I don’t have a ton to add about that game. The Nets rode Brook Lopez and just pounded the Raptors inside to get the win. Think what you will about Brook Lopez but he’s a weapon the Wolves really have to worry about tonight.
But we don’t have a ton to go off of with how this new Brooklyn team might play the Wolves tonight. What we CAN do is make fun of the Nets’ mascot. The Nets unveiled “the Brooklyn Knight” during the pregame introductions of the game against the Raptors and it was immediately the worst mascot I’ve ever seen. Here’s a fun fallout of the unveiling from The Brooklyn Game.
It’s truly horrible.
What’s hilarious about this is the post from Deadspin. Apparently, the Brooklyn Knight mascot (by the way, the Nets have absolutely nothing to do with knights in general) shares the same name as Brooklyn Knight, a porn star. Now, it’s completely feasible that nobody in the Nets PR department, marketing department, or front office had any idea this is a porn star’s name. Most people had no idea until they did a Google Image search for the Brooklyn Knight as people were making fun of it on Twitter.
And yet, nobody from the Nets’ side of this decided to run a Google search just to make sure they weren’t venturing into already charted territory — SERIOUSLY CHARTED territory.
Good work, Jay-Z and friends. I blame Beanie Sigel for this.
Also, Alexey Shved went to Brooklyn and got rid of his gorgeous locks and headband apparently.
Timberwolves PR tweeted out this photo not too long ago. It would actually be nice if Shved kept the headband or graduated to a bigger headband — something more Brad Miller like. I’d imagine this makes Shved a lot more aerodynamic and capable of coming around pick-and-rolls quicker. And maybe it will inspire the Timberwolves to take care of the ball tonight. I don’t know why it would but it certainly would be nice.
For today’s 3-on-3, it’s actually just going to be a one-on-one. Devin Kharpertian from The Brooklyn Game asked me to play him heads-up today in a little driveway basketball and I obliged. Devin isn’t one of those bandwagon Nets fans who just left the Knicks and decided to like the cool, new Brooklyn squad. Devin has long suffered the experience of being a Nets fan. We each have three questions for each other to break down what we can expect from the Wolves-Nets matchup tonight. We’ll start with his questions to me and my answers and then go to my questions for him and his answers.
Let’s do it.
Devin Kharpertian, The Brooklyn Game: The Wolves are without Kevin Love and without Ricky Rubio. Should the Nets fear the Wolves at all? Why/why not?
Zach Harper, A Wolf Among Wolves: The Nets should definitely fear the Wolves because Minnesota replaced all of their crappy players from last year with competent players for this season. Michael Beasley is out and Andrei Kirilenko is in. Wes Johnson is out and Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger are in. Darko Milicic is out and a half-eaten plate of day old nachos are in. Actually, Greg Stiemsma replaced him and he’s a pretty decent backup center. But if it happened to be the plate of nachos instead, it would still be an upgrade. It doesn’t mean the Wolves are better than Brooklyn, but it does show that this team is no longer an albatross without their two star players. Play solid defense and the Nets should win. Otherwise, the Wolves could definitely steal one.
Devin: The Wolves rolled deep in their first game — all ten guys got over 15 minutes of playing time. Is Adelman that comfortable with his bench, or was that necessitated by the game? (Basically I’m asking if you think your bench is good, and how they’ll affect the game.)
Zach: I think Adelman is comfortable with his bench, but also played guys out of necessity. Obviously when you add Rubio and Love back to the lineup, you’re not going to be playing 12 guys every night. Either Derrick Williams or Dante Cunningham will get their minutes cut, and I actually don’t think it’s an obvious choice. There were a few injuries in the preseason (outside of Love and Rubio) and I think Adelman is still trying to figure out which lineups work and which ones he should stay away from. If a guy isn’t making good decisions on both ends, Rick will pull them. That happened on offense a bit in the first game so he gave the Kings a lot of looks. I wouldn’t expect it to last more than a month.
Devin: What are you expecting or hoping for out of of Brandon Roy this season?
Zach: I think realistically I’m hoping for 15 games in which he has a huge impact on the team. If he can give the Wolves 15 games in which he’s making key plays at the end of a game or helping them put an opponent away in the third quarter then that’s a huge win for Minnesota. He can just be an average player outside of that. Nobody is expecting him to be an All-Star and I don’t think many Wolves fans are expecting him to be a complete bust. We know he’s a ticking time bomb in terms of health. I was a little worried that he played 30 minutes in Game 1. In the second game, that went down to 22 minutes but it’s probably because he kept turning the ball over.
Zach: The Nets moved to Brooklyn this offseason. For those outside of the fan base, why is this a big deal?
Devin: Because the Nets matter now. Outside of those glorious successful mid-2000s seasons, teams rolled into New Jersey for 35 years under the assumption that they’d leave with a victory. They’ve been a laughingstock. The move to Brooklyn makes the team relevant from a brand standpoint, and while that inherently isn’t important to other fanbases, it made the team a more appealing destination. Deron Williams has said on record that he wouldn’t have re-signed if the team weren’t moving to Brooklyn. That alone altered the course of franchise history, and other teams have to adjust to the team being good on the floor as well as being appealing. Teams can’t play the Nets and have it feel like their own home game anymore. Players like playing at home here, and other teams have to adjust to a crowd that actually cares. As a Nets fan who lived in New Jersey during the Jersey days and lives in Brooklyn now, it’s a different world.
Zach: For a couple years, the Nets were supposed to be big free agency players. They missed out on signing LeBron James and trading for Carmelo Anthony. Did they make the Joe Johnson trade so they weren’t risking striking out on players moving forward?
Devin: I wouldn’t say that exactly. They made the Joe Johnson trade because the team was awful after those rebuffs, and the allure of Brooklyn would only last so long without a talented roster. Billy King had one goal this offseason: checks be damned, make the team good. That first meant Dwight Howard, but I’ve instructed a sniper to shoot me in the teeth if I talk any more about Dwight, so I’ll stop there. Without Dwight, King set his sights on Plan B. Joe Johnson was Plan B.
Ideally, the Nets will be very good for four years, then move forward into the next era with that success as their blueprint. That’s when their first free agency test will be, but the Nets didn’t make that trade for fear of striking out later. They made it to be good now.
Zach: We’re not very far into the season, but how do you feel about the bench? Is this a strength or weakness for the Nets?
Devin: A tentative strength. C.J. Watson is good enough to be a starting point guard, but he’s excelled as the backup on this one, and it’s a better role for him. He’s everything Sundiata Gaines was supposed to be but wasn’t: he takes smart shots and makes them, plays smart defense and forces turnovers. Reggie Evans is an enormous fireball of energy. He may not grab 13 rebounds every 16 minutes like he did Saturday night, but holy spark on a firecracker he goes after every loose ball and has a tentative grasp of Avery’s defense. Andray Blatche had a very good preseason and some encouraging moments on Saturday, but he’s also the slowest defender on a team with Brook Lopez. Jury’s out. And MarShon Brooks is the longest, leanest awesome there is in Backupshootingguardland. That’s nine deep, and they haven’t even played Mirza Teletovic (former leading scorer in Euroleague) yet. I’m definitely optimistic.
Place: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Time: 6:30pm Central Time
Viewing and listening pleasure: FS North, NBA TV, and you can listen to it on 830 WCCO.
Records: Wolves are 1-1 and Nets are 1-0.
We’re currently at a three-turnover confidence meter with Khalid El-Amin eating one of he turnovers. I felt really good about the team after Friday night and a little less confident after what the Raptors made the Wolves do. However, it’s all completely correctable stuff. Don’t let the ball be dribbled out of bounds. Stop throwing the ball to the other team. Box out on the defensive boards.
Pek vs Lopez could be the key to tonight. If Pek can get Lopez into foul trouble early, it cuts out a big weapon for the Nets’ offense. Control the paint and the Wolves should be able to steal a game on the road. But this Nets team is a good team. Hopefully, JJ Barea will pass his concussion tests and be cleared to play.