Well, that was not fun. Every issue that fans and pundits thought would be a problem for the Nets was: Ben Simmons looked rusty in his first game back after a year’s layoff. The Nets got hammered by the Pelicans’ athletic front line. Defense didn’t match the hype and the Nets didn’t get it done on the boards with New Orleans owning a 61-39 advantage, 21-9 on the offensive boards giving the Pels a 36-4 edge in second chance points. The Nets also turned the ball over 16 times, some of them very sloppy and in general, chemistry was wanting. And yes, there were questions about the coaching.
There were bright signs. Although he missed shots he normally makes and scored only 15 points, Kyrie Irving did play some good D and Kevin Durant was Kevin Durant, you know who he is, scoring 32 points along the way.
Friday night, they play the Raptors who live and die by their chemistry and athleticism. The Raps beat the Cavaliers, 108-105, in Toronto, a slight upset.
Where to follow the game
It’s all local again. YES and the YES App are the place to be on TV. WFAN-FM has the radio call. Game starts at 7:30 p.m. ET at Barclays Center.
Joe Harris is back for the first time since November 14 of last season. That’s good because the first 10,000 Nets fans who enter the building will be getting Joe Harris t-shirts. He likes them.
Joe Harris approves the T-Shirt. This shirt is a fan giveaway at tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/4drAF7eujV— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) October 21, 2022
Seth Curry still didn’t get cleared. He has been playing four-on-four so he’ll be re-evaluated before Monday’s game vs. the Grizzlies in Memphis. T.J. Warren won’t be back until at least next month with his surgically repaired foot.
For Toronto, Otto Porter Jr. is out (hamstring) while both Khem Birch (knee) and Chris Boucher (hamstring) are questionable.
Over the past several years, no team has owned the Nets like the Raptors. Toronto is 22-5 in the past 27 meetings vs. Brooklyn. They split last year’s contests and as noted, the Nets are coming off a disappointing loss and the Raptors a nice win over the Cavaliers who have newly renovated squad.
Chemistry has been Nick Nurse and the Raptors organization’s best quality. Six Raptors finished in double figures led by Pascal Siakam’s 23 and Gary Trent Jr.’s 19. And like most teams with continuity and chemistry, they got better as the game went on. They outscored the Cavaliers 32-21 in the fourth, while forcing five turnovers. They had nine assists on 12 baskets. It was a clinic.
“We made a lot of mistakes and there were some really bad sections of defense out there,” head coach Nick Nurse said after the game. “But there was some really good hard play by us, diving on the flop and tipping balls and things like that. And that still takes you a long way in this league.”
For the game, the Raptors shot only 41.9 percent overall but 43.3 percent from deep, and got to the line 32 times.
The Nets, after two smart games in Milwaukee and Minnesota in preseason, got off to a woeful start and never caught up, going down by 27 at one point vs Zion Williamson and the Pelicans, displaying little chemistry. As Steve Nash said, it looked “clunky.”
There were some bright spots. Patty Mills came off the bench and gave Brooklyn some good minutes ... and 16 points. Royce O’Neale, filling in for Harris, played some good D and finished with 10 points, although he did have the worst +/- on the team, at -27. Nic Claxton who got roughed up in New Orleans big front court still finished with a double-double, 13 and 10 while playing only 23 minutes.
The big concern was Simmons’ play on offense. He took only three shots and scored only four points, got to the line twice, missed both. On defense, he got into foul trouble early and was disqualified after only 23 minutes of action Everyone from Nash to the other members of the new “Big Three” have offered prescriptions, but Simmons himself thought a lot of his problems were due to his excitement at returning to the NBA. The 26-year-old will need to take some time getting back his game rhythm. The presence of old reliable Joe Harris should help open things up for him and Irving to get to the basket more often.
Player to Watch
Scottie Barnes was all the rage during the off-season, with his name — and that of the Celtics Jaylen Brown — being the most bandied about in discussions of what the Nets could get back for Kevin Durant. Whether the Raptors ever really offered the 6’8” 21-year-old remains a mystery. We do know that any trade talks between the Nets and Raptors would have started with the 2022 Rookie of the Year.
And why not? At 6’8” with a wingspan of 7’2”, Barnes can play a multitude of positions, from point guard to power forward. His only weakness at the moment is his 3-point shooting, hitting only 30.1% in the regular season and 16.7 in the Raptors sweep at the hands of the 76ers. Against Cleveland, he led all players in +/- with a fat +20 while scoring 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting including 1-of-1 from three. He also grabbed three rebounds, handed out seven assists with two steals and a block.
From the Vault
Going way back for this one. In May 2014, Drake, the Raptors global ambassador, came to Barclays Center to sit courtside, not that far from Jay-Z and Beyonce’. The two clubs were in a rivalry that would include Masai Ujiri’s famous “F**k Brooklyn” at a Toronto pep rally in the playoffs.
Nets got off one of the great trolls of the season, if not ever, when they superimposed a Nets jersey on the rapper. To make things more uncomfortable, the jersey the Nets chose was a No. 4, the same number Jay-Z had worn when he introduced the jersey at the first concert at Barclays. Drake was not amused.
For further reading, go to Raptors HQ.
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Toronto Raptors Game Notes - Toronto Raptors
- Nets look for better team effort against Raptors - STATS
- Nets left to regroup quickly after ‘warning shot’ of getting dominated on boards - Peter Botte - New York Post
- Joe Harris set for long-awaited Nets return Friday against Raptors - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets excited for Joe Harris’ return from ankle injury nightmare - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets guard Joe Harris to make season debut Friday vs. Raptors - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Nets Joe Harris Available Against Toronto Raptors - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- Injury Report: Nets Joe Harris Probable Against Toronto Raptors - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- Nets Injury Tracker: Joe Harris probable for Friday’s game against Raptors - Phillip Martinez & Colin Martin - SNY
- Raptors Insider: Blowing up team is in the cards if Toronto doesn’t advance past first round of NBA playoffs - Doug Smith - Toronto Star
- With tough schedule to start NBA season, Raptors hope roster continuity will pay off - Doug Smith - Toronto Star