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The Nets begin the new season in Boston

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Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Welcome back! After a somewhat eventful offseason, the Brooklyn Nets are looking to surprise people around the league and put together a good season.

Waiting for the Nets will be the new look Boston Celtics. The C’s are looking to make it out of the first round for the first time since 2012 and made a lot of moves to help achieve that goal. The first week is going to be a tough one for Brad Stevens’ bunch as right after this game, they head to Chicago to play the Bulls as the second half of a back-to-back.

Where to follow the game

Now that the games count, YES Network will be with you every step of the way. WFAN 101.9 FM has you covered on the radio front. Tip off is set for after 7:30.

Injuries

The Nets made it through the preseason healthy, but Randy Foye hurt his hamstring in practice yesterday and will miss tonight's game.

Marcus Smart sprained his ankle against the Knicks on Wednesday and it's likely that he misses this contest. Kelly Olynyk began full contact practices on Saturday as he works his way back to the team after shoulder surgery.

The game

Jeremy Lin had a great preseason and will be responsible for making the new Nets offense. Kenny Atkinson has installed a new motion offense, and the Nets wound up playing at one of the fastest paces in the league in the preseason and took a whole bunch of three pointers. It's going to be a tricky transition for Brooklyn, and Anthony Puccio gets to the biggest issue facing Atkinson:

So, it’s fair to say the roster doesn’t match the system right now. Talent dominates this league and if you don’t have the talent, you aren’t going to compete. Plain and simple. This is why expectations are low and rightfully so.

With Smart out, that should free things up for Bojan Bogdanovic. The Nets took it slow with Bojan after he played during the Olympics over the summer. Now that the games count, he should play 30+ minutes a game. There's been debate as to whether he will start or come off the bench, but as long as he is getting his shots up and is on the court late in close games, it might not make much of a difference. The duo of Jae Crowder and Jaylen Brown will be assigned to Bogdanovic for most of the night. Crowder was one of the league's best perimeter defenders last season and Brown is a rookie with a lot of potential. For the masochists out there, Brown was taken with the Nets pick from the big 2013 trade, so there's that.

One big problem facing the Nets is their defense. They've spent all summer discussing how they would get better on that side of the ball, but the (preseason) results weren't there. The team allowed 104.3 points per 100 possessions on an effective field goal percentage of 49, both near the top of the rankings (in a bad way). Their perimeter defense figures to be the biggest issue and a player like Isaiah Thomas is perfectly suited to carve them up. Thomas was second in the league in drives to the rim last season and is very good in pick and roll situations, the area in which the Nets struggled the most last year. Lin's defense is better than it's sometimes given credit for, and Thomas represents a great challenge for Lin and the Nets.

Player to watch: Al Horford

After missing out on Kevin Durant, Danny Ainge and friends picked up the next best player on the free agent market. Horford signed a four year contract during the Fourth of July weekend and figures to be the piece that helps get the Celtics out of the first round for the first time since 2012. Over at the mothership, Paul Flannery has a nice breakdown of where Big Al would best help Boston:

Horford will be matched up with Brook Lopez. It's been an admittedly tough transition, but if/when everything clicks with the offense, Lopez's game will become even deadlier. Lopez has expanded out to the three point line and shot a respectable 33.3 percent in the preseason. His game is best suited for the low post and in the pick and roll, and should the Nets struggle on offense, look for Atkinson to get Lopez the ball in spots he’s most familiar with. The C’s are a little thin up front, so Brook should get around 16 shots a game and plenty of plays called for him.

From the Vault

Speaking of All Star big men making their Celtics debut, take a trip back to 2007 and watch Kevin Garnett’s debut with Boston.

More reading: CelticsBlog