Finally, the real stuff is here. The Brooklyn Nets take on the Detroit Pistons for their first regular season game at Little Caesars Arena. Brooklyn came up against Detroit during the preseason and put in a good showing. Things are completely different now there are actual stakes. Both teams are vying for the lower end of the playoff race and will need to get off to a good start to launch their 2018-19 campaign. The Nets went 1-3 against the Pistons last season and will be looking to make amends as their season kicks off on Wednesday. Here’s a few things to keep an eye on in Brooklyn’s season opener.
Coach Aktinson’s Rotation
Another season is upon us, and yet again, the Nets are cruelled by injury. Allen Crabbe and Shabazz Napier are both confirmed to miss while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is questionable. Furthermore, DeMarre Carroll will be out for an extended period after undergoing ankle surgery.
DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe and Shabazz Napier are all out for Brooklyn’s opening night tomorrow @ Detroit. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson TBD.
— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) October 16, 2018
Kenny will be forced to chop and change the starters and reserves as he looks for that winning combination. The starters in the team’s last preseason game (Russell, LeVert, Harris, Dudley, Allen) could very well be the same come Wednesday night. Treveon Graham did close the game out for the team and could sub in for Dudley, if Atkinson is worried about Dudley’s lack of mobility. If Rondae’s healthy though he’s the readymade replacement for the starting lineup.
Outside of RHJ (who didn’t feature at all in preseason) the only two healthy guys who could see minutes that didn’t play against the Knicks are Dzanan Musa and Kenneth Faried. Faired seems more likely especially with Detroit’s talent in the frontcourt. Musa has a chance, but right now it seems his fellow rookie, Rodions Kurucs, is more likely to see court time.
Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond are one of the best frontcourt duos in the league. With the Nets lacking in the power forward department there’s every chance that one of those two will put up big numbers. The two combined for 31 points and 19 rebounds in their preseason matchup. Drummond did, however, shoot a paltry 6/21 from the field. Efficiency will be key for both teams front courts impacting in a positive manner.
Jarrett Allen had a sensational preseason. He outshone Drummond in Brooklyn’s narrow preseason win over Detroit and showed development not only offensively, but more importantly, on the glass. Davis will provide great activity on the boards and a presence that will help offset the physical tools that a 20-year old center lacks.
You call it season opener.. I call it last official day of being a rookie
— Jarrett Allen (@_bigjayy_) October 16, 2018
The Nets won the rebounding battle in their preseason matchup. Their solitary win against them last season also saw them out rebound the Pistons. Brooklyn’s system emphasises team rebounding and if they can gain ascendancy in that facet it’ll go a long way to getting the win.
The entire organisation has been preaching defense nonstop this offseason. The talk has been that they’re changing tack to a defensive scheme that emphasises more switching so as to create more turnovers. That was reiterated by the coach.
“We’ve kind of stayed at the same level defense-wise over the past two seasons. I’d really like to take a jump and improve that area. We were 30th in the league in creating turnovers. That’s an area where upping our activity, that’s a big area for us this year of improvement.”
There have been moments of individual brilliance, though those have been outshone by the team leaking buckets on the other hand.
Blake tried to Blake … but Jarrett Allen wasn’t having it ? pic.twitter.com/GE1T8S3u0y
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 9, 2018
The team as a whole gave up 110 points per game across the four preseason hitouts. They’re likely still perfecting the intricacies of the defense but time is running out. The makeup of the roster is ideal for a switching style of defense. The question will be if they can execute it on a game-by-game basis.