- Michael Wallace, ESPN Staff Writer
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James and Garnett are both expected to sit out Friday's preseason finale between the Miami Heat and the Brooklyn Nets, but point guard Deron Williams hopes to return from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since August.
Garnett was not on the court with the team during Friday's shootaround, and coach Jason Kidd said the veteran forward would be given the night off to rest.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Friday morning he had not determined his playing rotation against the Nets, but James said earlier this week he would skip Friday's game and focus on Tuesday's regular-season opener against the Chicago Bulls.
Greg Oden, on the heels of playing his first NBA game in nearly four years, said he will also be ready if needed against the Bulls. Oden is doubtful for Friday night's game, with the Heat vowing to adhere to a pre-existing schedule that monitors his knees and conditioning.
Miami and Brooklyn will play for the second time in nine days and will meet again Nov. 1 in the Nets' home opener.
The teams created a stir last week when James suggested to reporters in New York that Garnett and Paul Pierce were hypocrites for the way they treated Ray Allen after he left Boston to sign with Miami in the 2012 free agency period. Garnett and Pierce enter their first season with Nets after accepting a trade that sent them from Boston to Brooklyn.
After the Nets blew out the Heat last week, Garnett responded to James' comments by saying the Heat star needed to focus on Miami and stay out of the Celtics' business.
While the stage may be set for one of the league's most anticipated rivalries this season, Friday's matchup isn't expected to be much more than a tuneup as both teams prepare for next week's start of the regular season.
Williams, who has yet to play in the preseason, listed his status Friday as a game-time decision. He completed his first scrimmage work with the team at Thursday's practice and said he would like to build some chemistry with his teammates through game action before the Nets open the season Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Williams initially sprained his right ankle during an offseason workout in August and said he was unable to participate in basketball drills until about a week ago.
"A week ago, I didn't even think I was going to be able to play against Cleveland, but I think that's a strong possibility now," Williams said after Friday's shootaround. "We're definitely taking steps in the right direction. I would love to be out there tonight ... even if it's a couple of minutes to get some game action under your belt. Do I need it? Probably not. But I would like to have some time out there on the court with the guys just, you know, playing."
10mAdam Rubin and Kieran Darcy