The Nets are hoping that this will be a championship season, but it didn’t get off to a championship start. The Nets lost their opening night game in Cleveland to the Cavaliers, 98-94, despite a comeback effort in the 4th quarter. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 21 points and 4 blocks while Jason Terry scored 14 off the bench including four 3′s. Tristan Thompson had 18 points and 9 rebounds for Cleveland.
This game was disappointing, because the Nets are the more talented and more veteran team who’s window is to win now, while Cleveland is one of the youngest teams in the league. Still, playing on the road in front of a hostile crowd proved to be too tough for Brooklyn’s all-stars tonight.
The first half was back-and-forth with the teams trading leads. Paul Pierce had a nice first quarter for the Nets, but was quiet after that until the fourth. In the third quarter, Cleveland began pulling away as Kyrie Irving started to heat up a little bit, but he was quiet for most of the night. In the fourth, the Nets’ bench helped lead a comeback thanks to Jason Terry’s shooting and Reggie Evans’s rebounding, but once the starters returned, Cleveland hit a couple of very tough shots to put the game away.
One important note from this game was that Deron Williams did not play for most of the second half. We don’t know yet why he was out, but it likely had to do with his ankle. Coming into the game, he was not on a minutes restriction, so he probably tweaked it at some point in the second or third quarters. We’ll have more on this when we know more information.
Player grades and notes:
Joe Johnson: C
Johnson did a nice job getting to the foul line today, but he was only 3/10 from the field and he did not make a 3-pointer. His defense on Dion Waiters was not great as Waiters had a bunch of wide open shots.
Kevin Garnett: B-
Garnett did his part rebounding tonight with 10 but he also allowed 18 and 9 from Tristan Thompson and 11 and 8 from Varejao. KG only scored 8 points.
Paul Pierce: B-
Pierce really disappeared in the middle of this game and only reemerged at the end of the 4th quarter where he tried his best to keep the Nets in the game. He also missed a shot with about 20 seconds left that would have tied the game.
Brook Lopez: C+
Lopez was pretty good on offense tonight and blocked 4 shots, but he still gave up too many points in the paint and only grabbed 5 rebounds. Same old story with Brook tonight.
Terry was good in the fourth quarter and Alan Anderson had a couple of good moments, but Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche both really struggled. Reggie needs to stop trying to put back layups after he gets an offensive rebound because he just gets blocked or turns the ball over. And I don’t know what Blatche was thinking tonight. This might have been his worst game as a Net.
The NBA has a long 82-game season so it is far too early to push the panic button in Brooklyn. Still, the Nets will try to avoid falling to 0-2 on Friday night as they play their home opener against the defending champion Miami Heat, who shockingly lost in Philadelphia tonight. FRWD will have full coverage of the game.