That's more like it. Faced with the prospect of starting their season 0-2, the Brooklyn Nets got it together and came away with a 102-90 win in Detroit against the Pistons on Saturday night. This is the home opener as well as the start of a four game homestand that ends against the Orlando Magic on November ninth.
The team on the other side for Brooklyn's home opener will be the Oklahoma City Thunder. After competitive losses to the Trailblazers and Clippers, the Thunder played their home opener and picked up their first win of the season against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night. This is a first night of a back to back for the Thunder and once this game ends, they'll head to Toronto to play the Raptors on Tuesday night.
Where to follow the game
This ought to be easy enough. For those of you near a television, the game will be airing on the YES Network. Due to Monday Night Football airing on WFAN, if you're not near a TV, you can tune in to the game on WCBS 880 AM. Tip off is at 7:30 Eastern.
We're going to have our first Brook Lopez appearance of the 2014-2015 season. He's been out since early October after suffering a midfoot sprain in his right foot, but he practiced on Sunday and has been cleared to play. This will be his first regular season since breaking his foot last December in Philadelphia. No word as to if he will start or if a minutes restriction will be placed on him.
For Oklahoma City, injuries have derailed what promised to be a big season. In the preseason, league MVP Kevin Durant suffered a Jones Fracture in his right foot and will be out six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery. Making matters worse for OKC was the injury to superstar point guard Russell Westbrook. Russ broke his right hand against the Clippers and after undergoing surgery, he'll be out at least four weeks. Reggie Jackson has missed the first three games due to an ankle injury and his status for this game is unknown as of this writing. And to bring it all home, backup guard Jeremy Lamb is dealing with a bad back. Injuries suck
Like he did for much of last season, Joe Johnson came through for Brooklyn late. Johnson scored 34 points and was the leading force for Brooklyn in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 points and keeping the Pistons at bay. The beauty of having a player like Johnson is that when the offense goes into a dry period, he can isolate at any time and get a good shot up.
What a difference a year makes. For most of last year, Jason Kidd kept Kevin Garnett on a strict minutes limit. Upon his hiring and throughout the preseason, new coach Lionel Hollins has made sure to mention that the limit KG was on would not carry over. Two games in, that appears to be the case. Garnett played 35:02 and had his best game as a member of the Nets, scoring 18 points and collecting 14 rebounds. He only crossed the 30 minute threshold once last season and that game ended in double overtime. Garnett has spoken of having a different mindset as compared to last year, and if the first two games are indicative of what's to come, Brooklyn will get the player they expected when they made the big trade with Boston in 2013.
How the Nets integrate Lopez into the offense will be interesting to watch. When he was healthy, Lopez was one of the league's best scorers. Seeing as how this is his first game back, it might be best to ease him in and limit the amount of shot attempts he gets. The Thunder trio of Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison will match up with Brook. Adams has some ability on offense and can step out and hit jumpers from up to 15 feet. Most importantly, he and Perk will provide very physical play on the inside with the hope that it will throw Brook off.
In all likelihood, Oklahoma City will be dressing eight players. With his superstar teammates out of commission for the time being, it'll be up to Serge Ibaka to shoulder the load for Oklahoma City. If the past game and a half are an indication, he's more than capable of it. He was a few feet away from sending the game against the Clippers to overtime and scored 23 points against Kenneth Faried and the Nuggets on Saturday night. One major development in Ibaka's game throughout the years has been the introduction of the three point shot in his arsenal. After shooting an impressive 38.3 percent from deep on only 60 attempts last year, Ibaka has already taken 15 three pointers through three games. This development makes him a very difficult cover for Garnett and other forwards in the league. When Westbrook and Durant return, having Ibaka as a more than capable third scoring option will do wonders for them.
Looking to assist Ibaka is Perry Jones. PJII didn't see many minutes with the big club during his first two years in the league, but he's been thrust into a major role due to Durant's injury. Three games in, and Jones is doing a pretty good job of filling in for the MVP. He averaged 19 points last week on an effective field goal percentage (remember that takes into account three pointers made) and when Durant comes back, Jones can provide a great scoring option coming off of the bench. The injuries are a temporary setback for the Thunder, but when the playoffs start, Oklahoma City will be a stronger team with more depth than a lot of us expected.
Player to watch: Sebastian Telfair
Before I saw him on the court against the Blazers, I had forgotten that Telfair was even in the NBA. And as it turns out, he was out of the league! Telfair signed with the Thunder It's a far, far cry from where we thought he would end up ten years ago. despite not having reached his potential, can Telfair help Oklahoma City? Over at Welcome to Loud City, Zebulun Belbrook answers:
Yes. There's no doubt about that. I won't deny that Telfair made some mistakes early in his career, nor will I deny that he wasn't a very viable player for the majority of his time in the NBA. But his off-the court problems seem a million miles away. He hasn't had any incidents in years, and hasn't been known to be a locker-room problem. Meanwhile, his past three years have seen him put in consistent production while dogged by circumstance.
The point guard of Brooklyn's past will have his hands full with the point guard of Brooklyn's present, Deron Williams. Williams didn't have great numbers against Detroit, but he was more aggressive in that game and that is always a welcome sign. Deron can get a good look at the rim against practically any guard in the league and Telfair is no exception. With the lack of guard depth on Oklahoma's roster at the moment, Telfair has to stay out of foul trouble at all costs. Look for Hollins to call a bunch of plays for Deron in this contest. When Telfair has the ball, he'll look to be a distributor. He's picked up 16 assists (to only three turnovers) in the two games he's seen major minutes and although he's only 4-29 from the field, he can still help the offense out a great deal.
From the Vault
Head on back to last November and check out the final minute of Brooklyn's home opener against the Miami Heat.
More reading: Welcome to Loud City
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Oklahoma City Thunder Game Notes - Oklahoma City Thunder
- Thunder-Nets Preview - Kevin Chroust - STATS LLC
- Why ageless Kevin Garnett is off to such a quick start for Nets - Tim Bontemps
- Brook Lopez will return to court as Nets take on Thunder - Rod Boone - Newsday
Nets' Brook Lopez set to return Monday - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Nets rookie Bojan Bogdanovic going through NBA growing pains - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets' Bojan Bogdanovic: Adjustment to NBA not that easy - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Positive vibes heading into Nets’ home opener - Gregory Hrinya - Examiner
- Oklahoma City Thunder notebook: Perry Jones has become Thunder's go-to scorer - Darnell Mayberry - The Oklahoman
- OKC Thunder: Denver did not take the Thunder seriously — and that's something OKC can take advantage of - - Darnell Mayberry - The Oklahoman
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Anyone who knows anything about playing point guard is in charge - Barry Tramel - The Oklahoman