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Open Thread: New Jersey Nets vs. Washington Wizards, Regular Season Game 3 (UPDATE: Caron Butler out, Randy Foye to start, Devin Harris out, Antawn Jamison looking good while shooting around)

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The Essentials:

Nets (0-2) vs. Wizards (1-1)
7:00 p.m.
Verizon Center
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable Nets numbers last season

T22nd in expected winning percentage (.415)
23rd in pace (89.9 possessions per game)
16th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (108.3)
24th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (110)

Pre-game links

Nets Daily
Nets Are Scorching, a Nets blog
Nets Are Scorching scouting report
Nets Blog with Dave D'Alessandro: Newark Star-Ledger
Dave D'Alessandro: No Devin Harris tonight for the Nets
GameDay New Jersey

Tonight's Projected Starters
Nets vs. Wizards
Rafer Alston
PG Gilbert Arenas
Courtney Lee SG Randy Foye
Chris Douglas Roberts
SF Mike Miller
Yi Jianlian
PF Fabricio Oberto
Brook Lopez
C Brendan Haywood

Couple things real quick:

  • Flip Saunders said Caron Butler is out tonight, but is more for precautionary reasons. He said he expects Butler to play in the Wizards' next game on Tuesday against Cleveland. The Wizards are saying Butler is "day to day."
  • Flip said Randy Foye will start at shooting guard. Kyle and I talked to Foye before the game. A transcript will follow.
  • As mentioned in the link above, Devin Harris is not playing tonight for the Nets. The Wizards catch a huge break there, since the rest of that Nets lineup does not look too imposing.
  • Flip talked at length in his pre-game press conference about Gilbert Arenas' offensive approach. David Aldridge was here and asking him about it. I'll try to post the transcript at some point tonight.
  • Flip also talked about the Wizards defensive approach and said he isn't too concerned about the Wizards' propensity for fouling. I also want to note that there's a new board up in the locker room with a list of benchmark goals for both the offense and the defense. For the defense -- FG% under 44%, 3-point percentage under 34%, under 20 free throw attempts, under 12 fast-break points and under 35 points in the paint. For the offense -- over 45% shooting, over 34% from three, over 25 free throws, over 13 offensive rebounds (that's a lot) and under 12 turnovers. After each game, the total from that game is written in dry erase marker and stays up until the next game.
  • Antawn Jamison was going through a pretty strenuous shooting workout before the game, working on his jump shots, pick-and-popping and finishing inside. He looked good, like his shoulder wasn't bothering him at all. Saunders also said Jamison is progressing well and joked that he looked like a guy who was ready to play tonight. So that's good news.
  • Key to the game: staying focused defensively. The Nets run a lot of motion and intricate cuts to make up for their lack of talent. If you cut that off and force them into isolation basketball, you will win. That still requires a lot of discipline.

Kyle, Rashad Mobley and I will be in Section 104 on the credentialed people table. If you're around, feel free to stop by to witness the return of Jarvis Hayes.

GO WIZARDS!

(Below the jump, a transcript of the Q&A Kyle and I did with Randy Foye. When we went up to him, he was looking at a sheet with some information about the Nets' offensive tendencies.)

Kyle Weidie, Truthaboutit.net: You're starting at the two guard, with Mike Miller swinging to the three. Is there a different mindset when you are starting at the 2 with Gilbert Arenas as opposed to coming off the bench and handling a lot of the point guard duties?

Randy Foye: It's basically the same mindset. Just go out there, play my game, be aggressive. It's going to be a little bit different out there with the first group, but the main thing is just to execute our plays and come out on defense.

Mike Prada: How would you compare the way you played against Atlanta to how you played against Dallas?

RF: Yesterday, I just didn't shoot the ball real well. I played defense real well, passed the ball real well. Everything went really well except for shooting. [Shooting] comes and goes. I work hard on my shot, and I take shots that I believe are going to go in, so there's nothing stopping me from not shooting the ball. It's just that they didn't go down.

MP: You played Joe Johnson a lot last night on defense. He's got a height advantage on you. How do you deal with guys who are taller than you?

(Mike Miller walked by and responded, "You grow extensions." Everyone chuckled).

RF: Just make it harder on them before they get the ball. I focused a lot on that and did a pretty good job. Just make it tough on him, that was my biggest thing. Don't let him get anything easy. I know that [Johnson] tried to post me up, and he looked at me, and he felt my strength. So basically, with a bigger guy, you got to look at it like you just got to make it tough on them before they get the ball.

KW: It's a different matchup tonight, and there's no Devin Harris. You might match up against Courtney Lee. What do you know about his game and how to play him?

RF: I played him last year. The main thing is that I know he's a slasher. I know he likes to shoot threes in the corner. I know he likes going right. Just the biggest thing is, you know, with anyone with an offensive mentality, you got to make it tough on them before they get the ball.

MP: The Nets run a lot of motion, a lot of people off screens. It seems that's different than the Hawks, who are more of an isolation-type team. How is that style different for you to defend against?

RF: The Nets are similar to Dallas, because of the pick and roll. Dallas loves to run the pick and roll for Dirk [Nowitzki] to pop, with Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. So, you know, you just have to stick to defensive assignments and try to stop them.