The young Nets are getting (inter)national attention and they’re enjoying it.
After finishing in last place last season, the Nets receive minimal national attention. They’re slated to play in front of a national TV audience only twice this season – one of them Thursday in Mexico City. You can only tell how a team responds to pressure during the game, but Allen Crabbe and the bunch are enjoying the spotlight.
“We’re excited,” Allen Crabbe all that media. “It’s a different atmosphere playing in the NBA Global Games. You look and you see all these media people, and it doesn’t feel like we’re in a regular game. It feels like we’re in the playoffs or something. There’s going to be excitement.”
The NBA gave out 200-plus credentials and they expect a sellout at the 22,300-seat Arena Ciudad de Mexico, which has wowed the Nets. It has 5,000 more seats than Barclays Center.
“Oh, it’s amazing,” DeMarre Carroll said. “I was like, wow, I didn’t know it was this big. Coming here, I heard about the food — the food is always good — great culture here. But when I walked into the arena, my mouth dropped because this is a great atmosphere and I feel like this is going to be a great game [Thursday] night.
“I didn’t know where we were going first off, to be honest. But then when I walked in, I was like, ‘wow, this is amazing.’ So my hat goes off to y’all.”
That’s great and all. The Nets probably deserve it as their attendance is third from the bottom in the NBA with opposing teams’ fans often taking over games. The game itself won’t be easy though. The high altitude is a problem. They’ll be playing 7,382 feet above sea level — 2,100 feet higher than Denver, the NBA’s highest city.
“There’s a lot more altitude than in Denver — and everybody knows how it is to play in Denver,” Crabbe said. “We’re even out here just shooting jump shots, and sometimes you get winded shooting jump shots. They’re just telling us to get our rest, hydrate and they’re giving us supplements to take, so we’re getting an edge and getting prepared for it.”
It will be an adjustment. The Nets play on a court that’s 25 feet below street level and at the NBA’s third fastest pace which means without all that prep, they’re likely to get winded quickly. Expect minutes to be spread out even more than usual, with perhaps some momentary lapses if Mexico City’s altitude starts hitting them.
They’re offering zero excuses, though. Both teams are playing in the same situation and both will have to adjust accordingly.
Carroll thinks they’ll be just fine, explaining how the Nets are supposed to be equipped for these types of situations considering the way they practice and train for the high-octane offense.
“We’re a young group, we’ve got to get out and run, get these guys up and down the court,” Carroll said. “We’ve got to take advantage of our positives, and that’s getting up and down the court, tiring these guys out … playing Brooklyn Nets basketball.”
“We trained all summer for it, to be in the best shape, to be one of the best-in-shape teams. So hopefully it’ll affect them more than it affects us.”
Kenny Atkinson says the team has also done mental preparation as well.
“I can’t give you all the details, but we’re on top of it,” said Atkinson of the physical training. “Playing at elevation is a different deal, so we’re trying to do everything in our power to address that. It started with today’s practice, pretty light, low intensity, but we got a lot of things done. We did film and then it was more of a mental practice and a lot of shooting.”
And it hasn’t all been hydrating, watching tape and breathing oxygen. The Nets have done some touristy —bonding— things and visited a school where they ran a clinic and spruced up a court.
The hope in the Nets’ locker room is not just to win. It’s to show off, to show no matter how young they are, how wounded they are, they can play on the big stage. We’ll see how they respond when they’re put to the test against the MVP and his teammates in front of more than 22,000 fans at 7,382 feet above sea level.
- Nets can’t say enough good things about Mexico City vibe - Brian Lewis - New York Post