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Nets open the home schedule vs. Magic

NBA: Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

It’s always good to be home. For the Brooklyn Nets, they come back home looking to put on a show in front of the Barclays Center crowd for the first time. They lost on Opening Night in Indiana, but that wasn’t the biggest loss they suffered that evening. More on that in a minute.

The opponent tonight will be the Orlando Magic. Orlando is hoping that a weakened Eastern Conference will be their way of getting back into the playoffs for the first time since the lockout shortened 2012 season (Dwight Howard’s last year with them). They got off to a nice start with a seven point win against the Miami Heat on Opening Night. Orlando won’t have much time to rest once this game wraps up. They’re off to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers as the second night of a back-to-back.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WCBS 880 AM on radio. Tip off at 7:30.


Jeremy Lin left Wednesday’s game with a right knee injury and everyone had been hoping it wasn’t as severe as it looked. Unfortunately, we found out on Thursday that Jeremy had ruptured his patellar tendon and will miss the rest of the season as a result. Injuries suck.

Aaron Gordon is questionable with a sore left ankle.

Getting into the game

For those of you heading to Barclays tonight and throughout the season, the NBA has made a few changes that you need to know about. Here’s the key one: No backpacks allowed...

There will be other changes as well, laid out here by Barclays Center, but they mainly deal with new amenities, not new restrictions.

The game

With Lin gone, some of the other Nets backcourt players will get a chance to step up. Caris Levert and Allen Crabbe will see their roles increase dramatically going forward. While Levert figures to start at the two guard, I think I’d go with Crabbe in that role. He’s such a great three point shooter and pairing him with Russell seems like a match made in heaven. Levert could serve as a sixth man and be the person responsible for guiding the second unit’s attack.

The Nets are gonna need to clean up their pick and roll defense in a hurry. Although Indiana only made nine three pointers (it felt like a ton more), they were able to get easy look after easy look running simple P&Rs. If the Nets hope to do anything this season, they are going to need to work harder and more effectively on that end.

Timofey Mozgov only played 14 minutes on Wednesday, but that should change tonight. The Nets rim protection was abysmal on Wednesday and they’re going to have to count on Moz to thwart players off when they drive to the basket. Mozgov will have the assignment of guarding Nikola Vucevic. Like everybody else in the league these days, Vucevic is looking to incorporate the three pointer into his arsenal. He ook one three pointer a game and shot around 30 percent from deep. If he’s able to shoot around 33 or 34 percent this year, it will open things up dramatically for his magic teammates. The Nets had trouble defending a big man who can stretch the defense when facing Myles Turner on Wednesday, and if they’re not able to effectively defend Vucevic when he ventures beyond the three point line, it’s going to be another long night for their defense.

Player to watch: Elfrid Payton

Now in his fourth season, Payton should be ready to take the next step. He’s cut down on his turnovers each year he’s been in the league and has seen his overall field goal percentage increase as well. You can live with his bad three point shooting if he’s able to make up for it by setting up his teammates and playing good defense. Orlando’s roster hasn’t really been built to accentuate his positives, but that figures to change in the near future.

D’Angelo Russell was the best thing about the Nets on Wednesday. He scored a game high 30 points and made four of his three point attempts. Brooklyn will outrace teams this year, and with Russell in control, the Nets will be exciting to watch. The Nets have some quality guards behind Russell in Spencer Dinwiddie and Isaiah Whitehead, and they’ll be counted on to keep things running while Russell rests on the bench.

From the Vault

This is the fifth season the Barclays Center has been open (quick plug: I wrote about the arena last month. You’ll like it.), so let’s take it back to when the arena originally opened in the Fall of 2012.

More reading: Orlando Pinstriped Post