Well, they're finally here. After what felt like decades of hearing that a move was just around the corner, the Nets have finally moved to the bright lights and pig pie hats of Brooklyn. In case you haven't heard, they're owned by a
Bond villain Russian billionaire and wanted to hit the ground running once they arrived in Brooklyn. As a result, they decided to forgo the typical NBA rebuilding process and spent a lot of money, bringing in Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Joe Johnson, along with a bunch of veterans who appeared as role players in nationally televised games four years ago. They just might make this thing work.
A quick preview of tonight's game:
Where, When, and What Channel: The game will be played in the brand spanking new Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 7:30 PM EST and can be viewed on Comcast SportsNet.
Why This Game Matters: It's the Wizards' first game against the rebuilt Nets since they brought in Joe Johnson and shipped out half of the league's replacement-level veteran wings. It's also Washington's first game in the Nets' new arena, plus it could feature Emeka Okafor's Wizards debut. Finally, in what will be one of the weirdest moments of all of our lives, we'll finally see Andray Blatche (!!!) in another team's uniform.
Who's Out: Nene, Kevin Seraphin and John Wall are definitely out for Washington, while Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton are unlikely to be available. For the Nets, Marshon Brooks is out with a foot problem.
Key Match Ups: Deron Williams and whoever guards him. Williams will give any defender trouble, but with his size, shooting ability and post-up game, he's a particularly bad matchup for the Wizards' relatively small point guards. Cross-matching with Beal or Crawford won't work, too since the 6'8'' Johnson (who can also post up and shoot over small defenders) is bigger than a lot of the league's power forwards. The flip side of this is that the Nets' backcourt is so big and their frontcourt so weak defensively that a super-quick point guard should be able to wreak havoc on them. Unfortunately, Shelvin Mack is the only Wizards guard who thinks pass-first, and he's not exactly the fastest guy on the floor, so Washington is unlikely to capitalize on this advantage.
What Happened the Last Time These Teams Met: The Nets jumped out to a quick lead and easily won 110-98 on April 6, 2012 in New Jersey. The Nets' perimeter players completely outplayed the Wizards', with Anthony Morrow in particular having an excellent game with 17 points in barely 20 minutes of action.
Will They Be Good This Year: Yes, although I don't think they will be as good as a lot of their fans are hoping. Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries have some skills, but both are relatively weak defenders, with Lopez being particularly bad. Considering how easy it is for guards to get into the paint in the NBA's post-hand-checking area, it's really dangerous for a team to not have someone playing behind their perimeter guys who can alter shots and cut off penetrators. I think the Nets should have a top 10 offense and a bottom 10 defense this year to go along with somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 wins.
Worth Keeping An Eye On: Mirza Teletovic could be a real steal for the Nets. A 6'9'' stretch four, he led the Euroleague in scoring last year and should be a Darius Songaila type who can space the floor, knows where to be, and doesn't really rebound or bang that much. #Baltche should be worth watching, too, since his problem was usually conditioning and motivation. If he's in shape and plays hard, he could have a decent game.