Nets eager for Brooklyn season opener

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
7:45
PM ET
The Brooklyn Dodgers played their final game at Ebbets Field on Sept. 24, 1957.

More than 55 years later, professional sports has returned to the borough.

And on Saturday night, the results will actually count.

The Brooklyn Nets, who have quickly become one of the NBA’s most fascinating franchises, open up their inaugural regular season at the $1 billion Barclays Center against the Toronto Raptors (7:30 p.m. ET, YES Network/NBA TV).

The Nets were supposed to play host to the New York Knicks on Thursday night, but the game was postponed to the devastation caused by Sandy. Brooklyn hasn’t played since falling to New York in its preseason finale on Oct. 24.

“Tomorrow is a game,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said following Friday’s practice. “... “No more simulated games or preseason games, so I know the guys are ready to go.”

The Nets moved to Brooklyn after playing in New Jersey for 35 years. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2006-07, and have won a combined 58 games the last three seasons.

That’s why GM Billy King was allowed to spend approximately $330 million of Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s fortune to overhaul/upgrade the roster.

King brought in nine newcomers -- highlighted by a blockbuster trade for shooting guard Joe Johnson -- while retaining cornerstones like point guard Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez.

Now, the Nets are firm believers that they’re going to be playoff bound. If they jell quickly, stay healthy and learn to play better defense, there’s little doubt that will happen.

For now, though, the Raptors are their main focus.

“We are anxious to get out on the court and just play against somebody other than ourselves,” small forward Gerald Wallace said.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Joe Johnson
PTS AST STL MIN
15.8 3.6 0.9 35.8
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.9
AssistsD. Williams 6.3
StealsJ. Jack 1.2
BlocksB. Lopez 1.7