Sure enough, basketball exists... for one more year in Newark, anyway.
The Nets start Deron Williams, Anthony Morrow, Damion James, Kris Humphries, and Johan Petro, and Avery cautioned that the lineup out there tonight may not be the one that starts tomorrow against Atlanta.
They'll go up against the Washington Wizards in Washington, and to help us answer a few questions we've asked Kyle Weidle of Truth About It to join us in our pregame 3-on-3.
1. First order of business: How do you stop John Wall?
- Justin DeFeo: Not sure if you stop John Wall entirely, but the Nets can make him less effective by finding him early in transition and slowing him before he gets a full head of steam, and sagging off him, daring him to make jump shots. At the risk of sounding cliché, however, no one man can stop John Wall. Our army of point guards will do their best to slow him, but it's going to take a team effort to truly contain him.
- Devin Kharpertian: John's court vision, quickness, and speed separate him from the average into the freakish. Luckily, he's not surrounded by great off-ball players, so the primary way to contain him is packing the paint with anyone and forcing him into beating you with his midrange game. Wall only shot 29.5% from 10-23 feet last year, so if they can keep him in that area, they'll have a shot at keeping him under wraps.
- Kyle Weidle, Truth About It: The best way to stop Wall is to not allow the Wizards to get out and run. This may mean less offensive rebound opportunities for New Jersey, but maybe that's okay with Brook Lopez out. Otherwise, continue to go under the screen against Wall -- the temptation could lead to bad shots for Washington's offense. And if New Jersey does find themselves defending against Wall's transition run, communication is key, as is keeping an eye on passing lanes to corner threes.
2. Second order of business: Can the Nets compete inside?
- Justin DeFeo: Quite possibly our question of the year. Once you get past Kris Humphries, our interior players are either of the backup quality (Shelden Williams, Petro), undersized (Damion James, Shawne Williams), unproven (Dennis Horner, Jordan Williams) or coming off injury (Mehmet Okur). While Washington isn't overwhelming inside, Blatche, McGee and Turiaf are true professionals, and will probably have a slight edge inside.
- Devin Kharpertian: Yes, but, no. Mehmet Okur can't contain Javale McGee, as Okur is not a helicopter, but luckily McGee's pretty good at mentally containing himself. Humphries has physical and talent advantages over Blatche and Turiaf if he's at full strength. Of course, when the backups come in, the story switches entirely.
- Kyle Weidle: I'm afraid without Lopez to make JaVale McGee work on both ends of the floor, New Jersey could be in trouble. There is simply no one on the Nets roster who can compete with his athleticism and length, especially when it comes to lobs from John Wall. The best hope is for someone to get physical with McGee to the point where he falls too much in love with rushed post moves and the interesting hook shot he is trying to develop.
3. Final order of business: who emerges victorious?
- Justin DeFeo: The Nets. Why not? First game of the season after an extended off-season, and both teams are trying to fit in new pieces without lots of practice time to really smooth things out. It's going to be a funky beginning of the season to say the least, and will be that way until things even out as the season progresses. The Nets have the best player in this game (Deron Williams), and he'll put forth enough of an effort to get the Nets the W tonight.
- Devin Kharpertian: I'm full of optimism today, so let's keep that train moving and say New Jersey. Sure, the Nets don't have Brook Lopez, but neither do the Wizards! If Okur's at full strength, he'll stretch McGee out of the paint, opening up a huge hole inside for James and D-Will to get buckets. Plus, Anthony Morrow can't go 0-10 again, right? ... Right?
- Kyle Weidle: With Lopez out, it's Washington's game to win, even though the Wizards looked very bad, and then okay-ish in two preseason games against the Philadelphia 76ers (who, give them credit, are a very decent team). Deron Williams is certainly capable of carrying New Jersey coming off strong performances toward the end of his run in Turkey, but he also didn't have to check anyone like Wall over there either.