Welcome back to basketball! After the usual slog through the preseason, the games count for real and things have changed since the last time we saw the Brooklyn Nets play a game that counted. The roster is different compared to Game Five in Miami, but their is still a lot of intrigue surrounding the team this season.
On the other side are the Boston Celtics. It's Year Two of the rebuilding plan and while they won't be competing for a playoff spot, this is still an important season. They have a young roster and this is a great chance for them to get some experience. GM Danny Ainge will also have to sort out which players they need to keep around so they can get back to playoff contention.
Where to follow the game
With Opening Night always being a huge occasion, the game will be easy to find. On television, the game will be seen on the YES Network. If you're on the radio side of things, check in with 101.9 WFAN. Opening Week is always free on the League Pass, so you can take a tour around the league and catch up on all of the action in the NBA.
For the Nets, we probably won't see Brook Lopez in this contest. Lopez suffered a mild midfoot sprain early in the preseason but has been healing well. He's listed as doubtful for this game but should be back pretty soon if he doesn't play in Boston. Even if Lopez does play, Mason Plumlee will see a lot of minutes at the Center position.
Surprisingly, Rajon Rondo might play. The All Star point guard and Connect Four enthusiast has been out due to surgery on his right hand, but has been practicing with the team and is a "nap-time decision."
For the Nets, this is the start of what will hopefully be a big season for Deron Williams. He's finally healthy after dealing with injuries to his ankles and wrists over the past couple of seasons. He'll face a good challenge from the Celtics backcourt duo of Avery Bradley and the rookie Marcus Smart. Bradley is one of the league's best perimeter defenders and Smart is a high impact rookie that figures to be a key contributor for years. Turning back to Deron, he is returning to an offense that will feature more movement and cutting is a welcome thing after spending most of his time in New Jersey/Brooklyn playing under isolation heavy, occasionally stagnant offenses.
This game is also the highly anticipated debut of Bojan Bogdanovic. Bojan has been on the Nets (and Nets fans') radar for years and he's finally here in the United States. Bojan (remember y'all, Bogdan is the one in Phoenix) and Joe Johnson will help the Nets space the floor and provide more flexibility for Brooklyn.
In the frontcourt, it's gonna be interesting to see how Plumlee and Kevin Garnett play together. Mason will start assuming Lopez is out. The duo only played 76 minutes together last season and Garnett has not played well at the power forward position since 2011. I wouldn't be shocked if Mirza Teletovic saw a lot of minutes in this contest. He helps to space the floor and is a pretty capable rebounder. For what it's worth, Mirza played more minutes with Plumlee (428) than Garnett (230) last year.
For Boston, this is the start of what might be the most important season of Evan Turner's life. This is the third team for Turner and this is probably the best opportunity for him to showcase his skills and salvage what has been, up to this point, a disappointing career. Turner will see the ball a lot more than he did in Philadelphia and his half season in Indiana.
In the Boston frontcourt, Jared Sullinger will look to make an impact. He was never much of a jump shooter at THE Ohio State University but has worked to expand his range. He only shot 26.9 percent from three point range last season, but having that in his arsenal will only help his game. He's also pretty physical on the glass and we should keep an eye on how he does against what has been one of the league's worst rebounding teams in recent years.
We also get to see two old friends in Gerald Wallace and Marcus Thornton. Wallace probably won't see much action but Thornton figures to play a key role with his three point shooting.
Player to watch: Jeff Green
Green is in a peculiar position right now. The Celtics are still in a rebuilding program and he seems like the perfect trade candidate. Over at Hoops Habit, James Holas wrote:
Yes, the talent of Jeff Green is as tantalizing as ever. But... he's 27, entering his sixth NBA season, and consistency is nowhere to be found. Sure, he had 21 20 point games in 2014, but he was also held to single digits in 14 of the 82 games he played last season.
The 41.2 percent he hit from the field was by far the lowest of his career. By all accounts, Green is pleasant and likable, but Danny Ainge isn't paying Green $18.4 million over the next two years to be Mr. Rogers.
Green will undoubtedly see a lot of shots in this contest and throughout the season. He led the team in field goal attempts last season but only shot 41 percent from the floor. Green is certainly a good player, but the general consensus (and one I agree with) is that he isn't the player that can be the lead option on a team that wants to make a deep playoff push. For this game, Andrei Kirilenko, Joe Johnson and Bojan will take turns guarding Green. The length of Kirilenko in particular should help to make life difficult on the 6'6 Green.
From the Vault
Ride on back to 2007 and catch Kevin Garnett's debut as a member of the Celtics.
More reading: CelticsBlog
- The Headline for 2014-15: Brooklyn Believes - Lenn Robbins - Brooklyn Nets
- Nets-Celtics Preview - Kevin Chroust - STATS LLC
- Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Garnett approaches 20th season with 'edge' - Ohm Youngmisuk - ESPN New York
- Can Lionel Hollins fix the Nets' D? - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Deron Williams of Brooklyn Nets says 'everybody's pretty much written me off' - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Nets still waiting on injured Brook Lopez for season opener vs. Celtics - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Rondo likely to play against Nets, but Lopez’s status still in doubt - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- As Buzz Fades, Focus Will Be on Nets’ Play. Fine by Them. - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- With Brad Stevens in Place as Coach, Celtics Aim for Results - Peter May - New York Times
- The 2014-15 Brooklyn Nets Season Preview - Alex Raskin - Wall Street Journal
- Nets less about hype this time around - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Nets: Lionel Hollins era starts tonight - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Despite Question Marks, Brooklyn Nets Are Still A Playoff Team - Steve Lichtenstein - WCBS
- Brooklyn Nets ready to roll in Boston - John Torenli - Brooklyn Eagle
- Brooklyn Nets 2014-2015 season preview: Lionel Hollins' crew looking to fly under radar - Gerald Kane - Staten Island Advance
- Rajon Rondo expected to play vs. Nets - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Ian Eagle's YES Network Season Preview - Ian Eagle - The Brooklyn Game
- Earned, but not guaranteed: Nets fringe players have more work to do to earn their spot - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Andrei Kirilenko Should Be Playing Small Forward for the Brooklyn Nets - Reed Wallach - Vantage Sports
- Rondo a nap-time decision vs. Nets - Chris Forsberg - ESPN Boston
- Rajon Rondo has plenty to prove as season opens - Chris Forsberg - ESPN Boston
- Don't sleep on Rajon Rondo - Chris Forsberg - ESPN Boston
- Celtics coach Brad Stevens is more comfortable this year - Gary Washburn - Boston Globe
- Celtics’ early schedule will be a daily litmus test - Julian Benbow - Boston Globe
- Green Street " Marcus Smart could be much better if he just stops taking so many 3-pointers - Julian Edlow - WEEI
- Can the Celtics make the playoffs this year? - Jeff Clark - Celtics Blog
- They might not win enough, but Celtics will be entertaining to watch - Steve Bulpett - Boston Herald
- Pace and space: 5 key issues to watch for this Celtics season - Mark Muprhy - Boston Herald
- Brad Stevens wins ’em over - Mark Muprhy - Boston Herald
- Celtics Notebook: Old friend Kevin Garnett to turn 20 in opener - Mark Muprhy - Boston Herald