Friday, December 23, 2011
W2W4: Nets at Wizards
By Mike Mazzeo
The Nets will kick off the 2011-12 season on the road in Washington against the Wizards on Monday night.
Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
WILLIAMS VS. WALL: Deron Williams will match up with 21-year-old John Wall in what figures to be an electrifying battle on the court. Both these point guards can flat out do it all. Williams is obviously more polished at this stage of his career, but Wall is fast-emerging as he enters his second NBA season. Williams finished out training camp strong with a 21-point, seven-assist performance in which he drained four jumpers from the perimeter. If his shot is on, he’ll be a nightmare to defend. At the same time, Wall’s quickness will be a great test for Williams defensively. It’s this type of matchup that will make fans forget about the lockout.
DEBUT OF MEMO: Brook Lopez went down with a broken foot, so the Nets acted quickly, striking a trade with the Jazz for Mehmet Okur. The 32-year-old gives the Nets an added perimeter dimension, given his range extends beyond the 3-point arc. He’s a career 37.7 percent shooter from downtown. From all accounts, it sounds like he’s healthy coming off a major Achilles’ injury that limited him to just 13 games last season. We’ll see if that’s the case on Monday night.
OVER THE HUMP?: Kris Humphries is expected to start at power forward and receive about 24 minutes, according to coach Avery Johnson. Humphries will only have five minutes of preseason action and four practices under his belt, so don’t expect the 26-year-old power forward to be a double-double machine just yet. Nevertheless, Humphries was booed loudly in New York every time he touched the ball. It will be interesting to hear if he gets the same reception in D.C.
BE CAREFUL!: The Nets had an alarming 46 turnovers in two preseason games vs. the Knicks. Johnson certainly wasn’t happy with his team’s “sloppy” effort. The Nets were basically implementing an entirely new offensive system in training camp, but they’re going to have to find some continuity soon -- especially since they play 10 of their first 14 games on the road.
ROOKIE WATCH: This year’s first-round pick MarShon Brooks will make his regular season NBA debut on Monday night. The Nets ranked 28th in scoring last season, so they’ll be looking for Brooks to give them a lift in that department coming off the bench. The 22-year-old Brooks can create his own shot off the dribble, and will be given every opportunity to do so in the Nets’ offense.