Finally! Tonight, the Nets will open up the Barclays Center and Brooklyn with a game against the Toronto Raptors. This game will not have the glamour as was expected when the Nets planned on facing the New York Knicks on national television, but this will still mark the first NBA regular season game ever to be played in Brooklyn. All Net fans would have rather faced the Knicks on opening night, but at least playing the Raptors will take some pressure off of the players. Unlike facing the Knicks, this will not be a must-win game in terms of bragging rights in New York. It is just 1 out of 82 and is honestly not more important than any other game.
If you are planning on going to the game or watching, here’s some information you might like to know. Here is some transportation information, courtesy of NetsDaily. If you want to watch the game in the New York area, it will be televised on YES. If you are outside of New York, the game will be on NBA TV. If you don’t have NBA TV, you will be in trouble because the game is blacked out on League Pass. Sorry. The Nets are not expecting a sold out crowd because of the hurricane and there are still some tickets available on both the primary and secondary markets.
If you will be attending the game, expect plenty of gifts and surprises. Every fan in attendance will receive a commemorative shirt recognizing the first basketball game in Brooklyn. The Nets will also be releasing their new mascot tonight. They haven’t announced what it will be yet, but it was designed by Marvel Comics and rumors are his name will be the “Brooklyn Knight” (like Brooklynite). That means no more Sly Fox. Additionally, the Nets new anthem will be released tonight. It was written by singer John Forte. Finally, the Nets will be wearing their home white uniforms tonight for the first time. Expect a couple other surprises that the Nets have not announced yet, too.
Now on to the actual basketball game, because that is really what matters. Let’s first look at the visiting Raptors.
This team has not made the playoffs in a long, long time and are looking to get back there this year, but they have a long journey ahead of them. In the offseason, they added Kyle Lowry, a point guard from Houston, Landry Fields, a very overrated Knick, Jonas Valanciunas, an intriguing Euro who was a lottery pick two years ago, and Terrence Ross, an athletic lottery pick from the 2012 draft. They are definitely improved from last season when they had Ben Uzoh sometimes starting at point guard.
In their first game, Toronto had an 8-point lead going into the 4th quarter but lost the game to Indiana thanks to a George Hill floater in the closing seconds. Lowry was impressive in the game, scoring 21 points, dishing 8 assists, grabbing 7 rebounds, and recording 5 steals. Valanciunas was also impressive, recording 12 points and 10 rebounds in his first NBA game. The big problem for the Raptors in that game was their shooting percentage. They only shot 36% which led to only 88 points for the team. They will need to shoot better if they want to win more games this year than they did last year.
Now let’s look at the Brooklyn Nets. The first thing we have to consider is that this team has not played a real game in 11 days! They haven’t played since last Wednesday when they lost to the Knicks in overtime in the preseason. They will probably be rusty, which is very unfortunate. I expect them to come out shooting pretty poorly at least in the first quarter.
After the hurricane, the Nets practice facility in New Jersey was flooded, so they have been practicing on the Barclays Center court since. They may use this to their advantage because the Raptors have never played a game here and the Nets are used to the Barclays setup.
Injuries: The Raptors have no significant injuries right now. For the Nets, Josh Childress will miss the game with a sore ankle. Keith Bogans will also see limited minutes because of various small injuries. Everyone else is healthy, including Deron Williams and his ankle.
Deron Williams vs. Kyle Lowry. Advantage: Williams
Deron’s advantage may not be as large as some people may think. Kyle Lowry is a very talented basketball player but most casual fans have never heard of him because he has never been on a good team. He is a complete point guard who can score and pass and is also pretty tough. Deron will have his hands full tonight.
Joe Johnson vs. Demar DeRozan. Advantage: Johnson
DeRozan just signed a 4-year extension with the Raptors even though he has been a little bit disappointing since being drafted as a lottery pick. He is not a great defender, although he can definitely score when he gets hot. I am interested to see how Coach Avery plays Joe Johnson tonight. We know that he will be starting, but I want to see how he will play with the second unit.
Gerald Wallace vs. Landry Fields. Advantage: Wallace
Landry Fields is the classic case of an overrated Knicks getting overpaid. He was a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden for 2 years, and thus earned himself a $20 million contract. However, in his first game with Toronto, he shot 0-6 and scored 0 points in 24 minutes. Crash Wallace should be able to push around Landry tonight and have himself a pretty good game.
Kris Humphries vs. Andrea Bargnani. Advantage: Bargnani
Bargnani is the kind of power forward that Kris Humphries has trouble guarding. He likes to play more on the outside and shoot 3’s than come into the paint. Humphries has struggled guarding players like that and I could see Bargnani scoring 30 easily tonight. I am definitely worried about this matchup.
Brook Lopez vs. Jonas Valanciunas. Advantage: Lopez
Valanciunas had a pretty good game against Roy Hibbert and the Pacers on Wednesday. But this game will be the return of Brook Lopez after last season and I think he will play very well tonight while being guarded by a rookie. I expect a 20-10 performance from Brook tonight.
Prediction: Nets 103, Raptors 97
In the first preseason game at Barclays Center, Avery Johnson said after the game that it meant a lot for his team to win the first ever game in Brooklyn. Because of that, I think the Nets will find a way to win tonight. Because of rust, they may not look good in the first half, but they will use a second half rally led by the veterans on this roster to put away the Raptors tonight.
Expect live game notes and a recap here at FRWD during and following this game.