Two straight. Playing in front of their home fans for the first time this season, the Brooklyn Nets took care of business, easily defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 116-85. Granted, the Thunder were without Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, but a win's a win. Russ and KD will also miss the next and final meeting between the Nets and Thunder this year on November 21.
Coming into Barclays Center this post Election Day evening will be the Minnesota Timberwolves. After an offseason of dramatic changes, the Timberwolves are in rebuilding mode with the hopes that they can become competitive in a few seasons.
Where to follow the game
On the television side, the game is on the YES Network. If you're not near a TV set, tune in on WFAN 101.9 FM. Tip off is at 7:30 Eastern time.
It was a nice season debut for Brook Lopez on Monday night. Lopez got into some foul trouble at the start of the game, but once he got some extended playing time, he scored 18 points and collected six rebounds. He only played 23:52, but the game was out of hand so he didn't need to play big minutes. As he gets more and more comfortable, Brook will take on an increased role in the team's offense. But for now, he can ease his way back into the swing of things.
Lopez, Garnett and Mason Plumlee will have their hands full dealing with Minnesota big man Nikola Pekovic. He only played 57 games last season, but still managed to take another step forward. The best thing about his game is his work on the offensive glass. He's finished in the top ten in offensive rebounding rate each of the last three seasons and is currently in the top 20. The T'Wolves aren't the best shooting team in the league, so there will be plenty of opportunities for the big guy to clean up. Brooklyn has been one of the worst rebounding teams in the league over the last five seasons, but they've won the battle of the boards in two of their three games and only lost one (Monday vs OKC) by two rebounds. Having a re-energized Garnett will do wonders for this organization.
This is the first opportunity some of us will get to see rookie phenom Andrew Wiggins. The stakes are high for Wiggins and Eric Goldman of Canis Hoopus lays out the importance of Wiggins' success:
Rookies who become great players rarely help you win in their first years, but usually they show flashes of what they can become. The future of Andrew Wiggins is absolutely vital for the Wolves; while they have many young players, Wiggins becoming a star over the course of his rookie contract is the most important thing for this team going forward. They need a fulcrum, a player to build around, and they made the Love trade in the hope that Wiggins can become that player. It isn't going to be this year, but we need to see signs that there is a star in the making.
Wiggins will face a good challenge from Joe Johnson and Bojan Bogdanovic. Bojan had his first great game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, scoring 12 points and making two three point baskets in only 26:56 of game action. Lionel Hollins wants him to be more aggressive, and with players like Johnson and Lopez on the court with him, he'll get plenty of good scoring opportunities. As for Johnson, I think it's safe to say that he's the team's best player right now. He's a solid passer, improving rebounder, someone you can consistently run the offense through, and the guy you want to handle the ball in late and close situations for Brooklyn.
Player to watch: Ricky Rubio
Three seasons in and we've got a pretty good picture as to what kind of player Rubio is. He's a great passer and solid defender but can't shoot. At all. He's yet to shoot at least 40 percent from the field and is unable to finish around the rim. Despite that, Rubio received a four year, $55 million contract extension on Halloween. There had been discussions as to whether or not he was even worth a max contract, but Flip Saunders has put that question to bed, at least for the time being.
The point guard matchup between Rubio and Deron Williams should be fun. Williams has been playing well and with the balanced Brooklyn attack, he won't need to shoot that often. Instead, he can play facilitator, a role he has been very comfortable with throughout his career. The two guards are similar to each other in that they're both trying to enter the conversation of elite point guards. Of course, the difference is that Rubio has never reached that level while Deron by all accounts has slipped from that perch.
From the Vault
Monday was Brooklyn's home opener, but also the nineteenth anniversary of Kevin Garnett's debut in the NBA. Head on back and check out the beginning of an amazing career for KG.
More reading: Canis Hoopus
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Minnesota Timberwolves Game Notes - Minnesota Timberwolves
- Timberwolves-Nets Preview - Jack Cassidy - STATS LLC
- Notebook: Brook Lopez feels sore but good - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- Nets' Brook Lopez feels good - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- A closer look at how Brook Lopez’s return boosts Nets - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Brook Lopez is still a fire-breathing scoring machine - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Wolves Daily: Long road trip begins Wednesday (Video) - Jerry Zgoda - Minneapolis Star-Tribune
- James: Timberwolves face tough slate on the road this week - Derek James - ESPN Twin Cities