The Brooklyn Nets first game of the season was disappointing, but they have a chance to redeem themselves and make a big statement to the Association on Friday night as they face the Miami Heat in their home opener.
The Nets haven’t beaten the Heat in their last 13 straight games and they haven’t beaten LeBron James in their last 17 times playing him going back to his Cleveland days. So this is a big game in that just getting one win against them should do a lot for their confidence.
“I think it will definitely be a statement game,” Brook Lopez told reporters. “It’s going to be a great benchmark for us. We absolutely believe we’re capable of competing with them and that’s something we’re going to want to be doing down the line, obviously, in the playoffs. So we’re definitely anticipating a high-energy, important game.”
Although, Deron Williams doesn’t seem to lack for confidence against them.
“I don’t know if we felt we were a better team than the Heat last year,” D-Will said. “And so I think in order for us to be able to beat them this year, we have to feel like we are a better team and we can beat them. And I think we do.”
• Andrei Kirilenko, who has been out with back spasms, is expected to be back in the lineup on Friday. He’s going to be limited to just 10-12 minutes, Jason Kidd told reporters, so it will be interesting how they use him. He’s an important guy for the Nets against the Heat because of his defensive ability and everyone expects that he will be the guy against LeBron. I felt like the Nets mismanaged D-Will’s minutes on Wednesday, as they didn’t have him at all in the fourth quarter, so it will be interesting to see how and when they use Kirilenko if he’s limited to 12 minutes.
• By the way, Kirilenko had a great quote on Thursday in which he told reporters that, one-on-one, he doesn’t think that LeBron is the hardest player to guard in the NBA and cited Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant as two that are harder. It wasn’t really an insult meant toward LeBron though as he was basically saying that the other two are tougher to guard because they are ball-hogs and King James is not.
“He’s definitely one of those guys who is tough to guard,” Kirilenko said. “I wouldn’t say he’s the toughest to guard 1-on-1, but he’s definitely in that category. ”
“For me, personally? I would say Kevin Durant and Kobe [Bryant], because they’re very motivated to play with the ball,” Kirilenko said. “LeBron is way unselfish, and he will pass it as soon as the guy is open. Kevin and Kobe, unless the guy is wide open, like wide open and ready to shoot, they will keep going at you. They’ll keep going at you. That’s why it makes it harder to play against those guys.”
• D-Will was limited to 22 minutes on opening night because he’s still recovering from a bruised ankle, which is why he didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. He’s expected to be limited to about 26 minutes against the Heat on Friday, and Nets general manager Billy King explained that D-Will should have no restrictions by Sunday against Orlando.
• J-Kidd is out again tonight as he finishes his two-game suspension for a DUI he got back in July. Joe Prunty will once again take his place. Everyone expected Lawrence Frank to get that job, but the way it works is that Frank runs the defense, John Welch runs the offense and they wanted to keep it that way so Prunty got the gig as “interim coach”. Kidd will be back on Sunday in Orlando to officially coach in his very first game.
• Mirza Teletovic did not play on Wednesday against the Cavs, but John Schuhmann, an advanced stats writer for NBA.com, makes the case that Teletovic should be playing at the four more often when the nets rest Kevin Garnett.
“”I want to see them give Teletovic a shot,” Schuhmann said. “If they did the same tack that the Celtics did with KG,and have him sit at the five minute mark, that’s when I would bring in Teletovic. Let him play off the other starters, He is an incredible shooter when he’s open. But I don’t necessarily like him with the second unit where there are not other guys creating shots for him.
“I’d actually like to see him on the floor, playing with Pierce and with Williams and with Lopez, where they draw double-teams and now he’s the open guy and he can really kill defenses that way.”
• The Nets were inconsistent on Wednesday night and a big part of it probably has to do with the unfamiliarity the players on the court have with each other. Kevin Garnett cautioned that people need patience. Miami’s Chris Bosh, who went through something very similar in his first season with the Heat, said that he doesn’t expect it to happen for Brooklyn any time soon.
“It takes a whole season to gel,” Bosh said. “In their situation, we understand what they’re going through with the championship expectations with a brand new team. That’s not always the easiest thing to do. There’s going to be peaks and valleys throughout the whole process. You just have to deal with it and move on.”