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FINALLY! New look Nets begin preseason against new look Wizards

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Kyire Irving New Jersey Nets Jersey Unveiling Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

Hello! It’s been a bit of time since we last saw you, but it’s good to be back as we get ready for what’s shaping up to be another weird NBA season. COVID-19 is still raging, we’re still trying to make it to see tomorrow, and everything has changed around the Brooklyn Nets.

When we last saw the Nets, they were finishing up their 2019-2020 season in the bubble as the Toronto Raptors finished off a four game sweep. Since then, they overhauled the coaching staff and are reintroducing their two franchise players, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, back on to the court.

The opponent tonight at a (fanless) Barclays Center will be the Washington Wizards. It’s been a grim few years for the Wiz and they just made a franchise altering decision a few days ago. More on that in a bit.

Where to follow the game

YES Network and NBA TV on TV. Evening tip so we’ll get the show going after 6 PM. Neither of the two preseason games will be broadcast on radio.

Injuries

Nicolas Claxton will miss training camp after being diagnosed with right knee tendinopathy. Caris Levert is out with a patella contusion.

Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, Ish Smith, and Jerome Robinson are all out. Thomas Bryant is questionable with left hip tightness.

The game

Steve Nash and friends will get two preseason games and a few weeks of practices to lay down the foundation of a good regular season. One of the big questions surrounding the team will be how Kevin Durant will look after being away for a year plus thanks to the Achilles injury he suffered in the 2019 Finals (and the pandemic). So far, everything’s looking good according to Nash:

“I feel very excited and happy for Kevin, who’s had the longest layoff and the biggest challenge to overcome a career-threatening injury. He’s done everything that could’ve been asked and he shows a hunger and a desire of how much he loves the sport and wants to compete, so that’s been fantastic.”

I do wonder how they’ll manage his workload this season, but that’s a question for down the line. For now, the fact that KD is back and by all accounts looks to have not lost a step is a huge win.

With Brooklyn only having two preseason games, we may see guys get more minutes than usual for preseason in order to develop a rhythm for the real games coming up. The team will get a chance to see how certain things fit and when Levert comes back, we’ll get to see what other experiments they have in mind.

As for tonight, expect the starters to get between 22 and 25 minutes and that includes the players to watch ... Kev and Ky.

Player(s) to watch: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant

For Irving, hopefully this preseason starts better than last year’s. If you remember, Irving suffered a facial fracture to begin camp last year. That, and the Nets being stuck in China when all that Daryl Morey stuff happened made for a bumpy start to his Brooklyn. This year should be a smoother, healthier one for Irving as he runs the show for his childhood team.

Irving has been having his issues with the media recently, but now that we’re back on the court, that figures to die down. As long as he’s healthy and playing like his All-Star self, all the other stuff won’t matter.

Oh yeah, Kevin Durant too! KD returns to the court 552 days after rupturing his Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. According to everyone who’s seen him, KD looks like the old KD, which means the smoothest scorer in the game.

KD and Kyrie, of course, agreed to sign on what Nets fans call “the Clean Sweep,” when Adrian Wojnarowski reported on June 30, 2019 they and DeAndre Jordan agreed to join Brooklyn. The promise of them playing together sustained Nets fandom through a disappointing year filled with a change in ownership, injuries, a global pandemic, a change in head coaches and now just a little bit of anxiety about how they will mesh. No worries, DJ said the other day.

“I think they looked like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving,” said Jordan the other day when asked how they looked. “I think they looked exactly like themselves. There’s no favoring or tiptoeing around things. Those guys are both going really hard, and it’s good to see. It’s good to see Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving back on the court. I will say that.”

From the Vault

Let’s start getting into the Christmas spirit, y’all!

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