Let the games begin.
In talking with reporters before Brooklyn’s first official game in Orlando, head coach Jacque Vaughn announced that Jamal Crawford (conditioning) will not play. The 20-year veteran did not play in any of the three scrimmage games. On the other hand, Rodions Kurucs, who injured his hip in the final seconds on Monday, will indeed play. Same goes for Donta Hall, who did not play in any of the three scrimmages either. The two are expected to be Jarrett Allen’s backup at the center position.
The Nets will play extremely undersized. After Allen, Hall (6’10”) is the next tallest player. Then, it’s Kurucs at 6’9”.
“You will see us acquiesce a little bit and try to match size at different points of the game, but at the same time we need to be extremely scrappy and competitive when we are small,” said Vaughn. “We sill stay with our game plan and hopefully it will be enough.”
Magic head coach Steve Clifford expressed his concerns with Brooklyn’s small-ball style and having to match it, specifically mentioning Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert in the pick-and-roll.
“We’re going to start the same five guys that we’ve been starting. And then part of it frankly today depends on when they play small and when they play bigger,” said Clifford. “They go to a super-downsized lineup with Kurucs at the five and so if or when they do that, that will determine to a certain degree how we sub, too.”
“For the season, he’s [averaging] three offensive rebounds per game, he runs the floor hard, he’s got a terrific roll game in the pick and roll which puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and he plays with great energy and activity out there,” the opposing head coach said about Allen. “So, he’s one of the guys we have spent a lot of time discussing over the last two days.”
And what about defending Caris LeVert?
“I think a majority of it is the pick and roll, the next part is they’re four out and one in with Allen being such a great roller that it creates longer close-outs,” said Clifford. “He’s very good at attacking. Then when they downsize and they’re five-out, he’s got more room and he’s a very good one-on-one player also. He’s got different ways to score, he’s big, he’s physical, but I’d say the main thing we have to do is contain him one-on-one, help is needed and we’re going to have to be clean with our pick-and-roll defense.”
Allen shot 77 percent with a double double in each of the three scrimmage games. LeVert, meanwhile, averaged 20 points in exhibition play.
In discussing social justice and how the Nets will approach pregame, Vaughn said the Nets will stay in solidarity with one another — much like the teams did last night. Every player and coach knelt for the national anthem.
“I think the precedent has been set as far as how united we want to be as an organization and also as the NBA world-wide,” said Vaughn. “We have the right to protest, and those protests are gestures of concern. So, we will continue as an organization doing our part tonight.”