Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets will host the Washington Wizards in the first basketball game ever at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. There is tons of excitement in Brooklyn about this game, despite the fact that it is meaningless and probably will not display a very high level of basketball. The game will be televised on YES, beginning at 7:30 PM. YES will also have a special called “Nets 2012: Hello Brooklyn” both before and after the game.
The Nets are entering this game 1-0 in the preseason, while the Wizards are 1-2 while coming off of a win in their last game at Cleveland. The Wizards are an extremely short-handed team right now and will be without many of their key players including John Wall, Emeka Okafor, Nene, Chris Singleton, and Kevin Seraphin. With all these players out, this team is honestly not much better than the top D-League teams, and I expect the Nets to win this game even if they don’t play their starters. Expect 3rd overall pick Bradley Beal to carry the Wizards offensively. He could easily score 25 points. Also expect some scoring from former Nets draft pick Jordan Crawford.
The Nets, who have somehow only had one preseason game so far, will begin a 4-game-in-5-night stretch with this home game against Washington. Because of this, expect limited minutes from the starters. One player I will be watching closely is former Wizard Andray Blatche. He knows that this team amnestied him in the offseason and he wants to show them what they are missing out on. He may get a lot of playing time and score a lot of points. Also expect rookies Tornike Shengelia and possibly Tyshawn Taylor to see some minutes after being held out of the first preseason game.
The most important thing the Nets need to take away from this first home game is to know what to expect in terms of energy level. Even though this isn’t the true home opener against the Knicks, this crowd will be very excited and it may be a sellout. Players who were on this team last year are not used to crowds with this much energy at home cheering for them and they may need to adjust to handle the added pressure. Home teams often come out flat when there is a lot of energy in the crowd and the Nets need to learn to avoid this so that they are prepared for opening night, which may in fact be their most important game of the season.