Nobody said this was gonna be easy. After losing to the Bulls on Opening Night, the Nets played their first road game of the season in San Antonio vs the Spurs. They've had some of their worst losses in San Antonio in recent years, so losing by 27 isn't much of a surprise. This is the second night of a back-to-back for the Nets. They get Sunday off before coming home to face old friend Jason Kidd and his new look Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
Waiting for the Nets will be the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies had a rough showing on Opening Night vs the Cavaliers, but bounced back with a nice win in Indiana on Thursday night. The Western Conference figures to be a brawl once again this season, and Memphis is ready to take on all challengers.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV with WFAN 101.9 FM on the radio. Tip off is after 8 PM.
Jarrett Jack made his season debut last night after missing the first game thanks to a tight hamstring.
The Grizz are all clear.
Spacing has been a bugaboo for Memphis ever since they broke through during the 2011 Playoffs. They've tried to fix it over the years, but nothing's really worked. Their latest attempt involved bringing in former Clipper and sometimes
crazy man wildcard Matt Barnes. He'll look to provide some solid three point shooting in the starting five and pairing him with Mike Conley, Timbaland Tony Allen, Z-Bo and Big Spain will only make Memphis an even feistier team. Grizzlies vs. Clippers on Monday night.
Coming into the season, there were a lot of questions about Joe Johnson and whether or not he would be able to bounce back after a poor 2014-2015 season. Two games in, it doesn't appear to be the case. Johnson only went 1-7 and now will have Allen guarding him tonight. We're going to be saying this all year, but Brooklyn is going to need a lot more from Joe Johnson if they want to be competitive.
Brook Lopez has been facing top tier big men so far this year, and tonight is no exception. Marc Gasol is arguably the best center in the league and he brings a variety of skills to the table. He's a very capable scorer in the low post, can space the floor with his jumpers from the elbows (which in turn gives Zach Randolph room to bully fools inside), is an excellent passer, and anchors one of the league's best defenses. Lopez should be looking for some payback after Gasol dominated the matchup between them in Barclays last season.
The benches should play a key role in tonight's game. Jeff Green is Memphis' sixth man and responsible for generating offense for the second unit. Green is not the go to scorer people may have hoped for back when Boston drafted him fifth overall (and then traded to the Seattle Sonics in exchange for Ray Allen) in 2007, but he's a nice player to have. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson should see a lot of time guarding Green. RHJ has the most defensive potential out of any of the bench players and should spend a lot of time guarding Green.
Player to watch: Mike Conley
While his superstar colleagues Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Chris Paul earn all of the "Best Point Guard in the NBA" love, Conley is a damn good guard that sometimes gets underappreciated. He does a terrific job of facilitating the Memphis offense, is a solid shooter that keeps teams honest from downtown, and is a great defender. He's also double tough and can play through anything. He's the perfect point guard for Memphis.
Conley is a free agent this offseason and is someone Nets fans on here have been discussing for some time. The Nets figure to be looking to make a splash this summer, and a player like Conley would work well in Brooklyn and his former coach Lionel Hollins. My colleague Daniel LoGiudice wrote about the entire 2016 free agent process for Brooklyn, saying:
The Nets will have to distinguish themselves from the other teams in the NBA. They need to prove that the franchise can win and not just rely on their cap space. When every team has cap space as well due to the new TV deal, the $40 million the Nets have in cap space becomes disturbingly irrelevant. Brooklyn has also been cutting costs anywhere they can, and free agents will certainly notice that --the NBA is like a small town-- and take that into consideration.
With Brooklyn's point guard situation still in flux, Conley is in line for a big game. Jack is back in the lineup, but Markel Brown should get some time chasing Conley around the court. Brown doesn't provide much in terms of scoring, but the Nets need as many good defenders on the court as possible, and Brown certainly qualifies as one. As for Jack, he's a guard that likes to create his own shot, so the Nets are hoping that he can make Conley work hard on defense.
From the Vault
We're taking a few trips to the Vault today. First, meet Marc Gasol of Memphis:
Also, today is the 15th anniversary of Kenyon Martin's NBA debut. Take a look back at one of the games that made him the eventual number one pick.
One last thing! Once you're done looking at the K-Mart video, check out my retrospective on his career with the Nets and beyond.
More reading: Grizzly Bear Blues