The Nets will hold their annual open practice Saturday morning at Brooklyn Bridge Park in front of their fans. On Monday, they’ll make the final cuts to the roster. Then, on Tuesday, they’ll fly to Indianapolis for the season opener vs. the Pacers.
The blowout they suffered Wednesday night vs. Philly is in the past. More importantly, it looks like the Nets will enter the season healthy. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson hurt his hand against the 76ers, but it appears to be a minor injury. As we’ve noted, that’s a far cry from last season when the full roster was healthy for exactly one game, on March 1, by which time they had already lost 49 games.
The team also thinks they’re a lot more talented than they were a year ago and there’s a bit of continuity as well. Last year, the Nets returned five players from the 2015-16 season. This year, it’s nine. With the exception of Timofey Mozgov, they spent most of the summer in Brooklyn. And they did win three preseason game by an average margin of 20.1 points.
“I think we’re definitely more talented, [but] demeanor is too early to tell,” Jeremy Lin said. “I think preseason is in a lot of ways fool’s gold. The real character and mindset and demeanor of everybody comes out in the regular season.”
The pundits and bookmakers’ opinions don’t matter.
“Honestly, I’m not really paying too much attention. But my evaluation was always we’re pretty good. I’ve never thought anything otherwise, and I’ve never let anybody’s opinion tell me otherwise,” said Lin who is the record saying Brooklyn will make the playoffs ... “I don’t care what anyone says.”
His new running mate in the Nets backcourt, D’Angelo Russell, wasn’t happy with the team’s lack of poise when they went down early vs. the 76ers. Overall, he thinks the team has built a nice foundation this off-season.
“I think we handled it well,” Russell said. “We came ready to play straight from training camp. Our hard work from training camp led us into the preseason and we played well.”
Their coach agrees.
“My overall sentiment, training camp, preseason — you have to throw this [Sixers] game in because it happened — but I think there’s a positive feeling in our locker room that we have positive momentum going into the regular season,” Kenny Atkinson said.
“I’m a second-year coach. I’m a little more confident in what I do. Guys that have been here, it’s the second year. Continuity is huge. Then, the guys we brought in have a confidence about them, DeMarre and D’Angelo have been in the league . . .
“Hopefully, 10 games into it we’re meshing and we’re not thinking about who was here last year and who are the new guys. I think we’ve gotten there quicker than I anticipated.”
Everyone agrees that the team’s offense should be better ... and everyone agrees that the defense has shown some improvement. Sustaining it will be the issue.
“As you can see we can score the ball,” said Lin. “I don’t think anyone’s doubting that. It’s the other end of the floor.”
We will find out soon enough.
- Nets counting on huge loss to build character for season - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Jeremy Lin: Defense is Nets' key - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Changes in the Nets’ lineup give team chance to prosper - Vincent Davis - New York Amsterdam News