"Game No. 2" or "statement game" ... it's still against the Miami Heat

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

It's been marked on everyone's calendar, player and fan alike, since the schedule came out back in August: Opening Night at Barclays vs. the World Champions, the Miami Heat. It's a chance for the Nets to test their mettle against the team they need to get past if they want to make that championship journey.  They've also lost 13 straight times to Miami. For the Heat, it's an opportunity to show another contender, as they did with the Bulls, who's No. 1.

The Heat, of course, lost to the Sixers on Wednesday, a shocker made possible by Michael Carter-Williams near quadruple double in his NBA debut. The Nets disappointed as well vs. the Cavaliers. Both should be able to put that behind them. Brook Lopez called the contest a "statement game" and with the influx of the Brooklyn Celtics, there's some history and bad blood. But it is only Game No. 2 of 82 and beyond.

Still, Deron Williams laid it out in his conversation with Ohm Youngmisuk.

"I don't know if we felt we were a better team than the Heat last year," Williams said during a sitdown with first-year Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd for ESPN's "SportsCenter" conversation. "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."

The Nets won't be facing the same team that fell to the Sixers. Dywane Wade sat out that contest. He'll be back Friday. The Heat are in general healthy. The Nets should have everyone ready to go, other than Tornike Shengelia. Deron Williams will have a minutes restriction, likely in the 30 minute range. Andrei Kirilenko, who likes guarding LeBron James, will also be on a minutes restriction but no one is saying how many. Joe Prunty will coach again in the place of Jason Kidd.

As for the bad blood, it's mostly about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James and Wade, who said of teh former Celtics, "There have been battles and certainly dislike."

"We are very familiar with the players that they have on that team," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And hopefully we'll be able to perform better than we did in the two preseason games."

The Nets played well against the Heat in preseason, beating them handily twice but Miami didn't have a full complement of players in either game. Last season, the Nets lost all three games to the Heat, by an average of 21 points.

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