We finally have real, meaningful NBA basketball back! The season started on Tuesday when the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Boston Celtics, and the Houston Rockets squared off against the Golden State Warriors for the nightcap. It’s now Wednesday, and the Brooklyn Nets are back in action.
Brooklyn went 1-3 against Indiana last year with its lone victory coming at the Barclays Center. This Pacers team, however, looks much different. There’s no Paul George. He’s now with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead, they’re deploying Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner is going to be the new leader of the team. Without an All-Star like George, the Nets have a better chance of coming away with the victory.
The guards are going to carry a majority of the load, specifically D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin. They combined for 28.6 points during the preseason, and it’s their responsibility to initiate the offense and put everyone where they need to be. Guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe aren’t as useful if someone isn’t delivering the ball to them at the right time, and Brooklyn is going to need a total team effort to be competitive this season. Fortunately, we got flashes of that.
Hollis-Jefferson has adjusted well to being a small-ball four, and the ball just finds him. He’s also stepped up on defense and on the glass, which were problematic areas for Brooklyn last year. As for Crabbe and Carroll, they spaced the floor beautifully and weren’t shy about getting their shots up.
This matchup is one that doesn’t feature any solidified stars, something we don’t see much in today’s NBA. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t be worth watching. Both sides have players who can produce. On top of that, the two squads love to move the ball and create open shots, a necessity when a team is devoid of a star. Brooklyn chooses to focus on the three ball, and it’s going to be a long night for the Pacers if triples start to fall for the Nets.
In the preseason, the Nets attempted 33.3 triples a night (fifth overall) and made them at a 37 percent clip (14th overall). I don’t know if that’s sustainable for an entire season, but the young players are going to be trigger-happy, and Kenny Atkinson isn’t going to stop them.
Brooklyn’s depth could also be an issue for the Pacers. Atkinson could potentially throw nine or 10 guys out there Wednesday night, as he searches for rotations that work.