In the final stop on Brooklyn’s #WeTalkinBoutPreseason Tour, the Brooklyn Nets blew out the Miami Heat for the second consecutive preseason game, finishing this one with an easy 108-87 victory. Five Nets finished the game in double figures, including 16 from starter Paul Pierce.
Below is my ten final thoughts on Nets preseason. The regular season starts Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It can’t come soon enough.
1) Is it just me, or did this preseason feel longer than previous years? Perhaps it’s because we saw just a few glimpses of what Deron Williams could bring to Brooklyn with this kind of firepower around him, perhaps because we didn’t see the “true” starting five once in preseason, perhaps because this is the fourth straight year that I’ve watched every Nets game of a season section that literally could not matter less in the grand scheme of the NBA. Maybe it’s because this team is actually a championship contender and I just want that journey to start. But every day in this preseason felt like a slog and I’m glad it’s over.
2) It’s ten minutes in a preseason game, but Deron Williams looked great. The guard, who sat the entire preseason prior to tonight resting an injured right ankle, entered the game and promptly hit his first three of the night. Then, on the next possession, he hit his second three. Soon after, a third. So much for that worry about Williams’s return. Williams’s successful return was, without a doubt, the most important part of Friday night’s game.
3) It’s early and I know it as an NBA thing, but I’m going to enjoy every JET celebration this season.
4) In the first quarter, Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade got into a jawing match, after Wade took offense to a move Pierce made. This comes after Pierce gave LeBron James a playoff-esque foul in the team’s last preseason matchup. There is no love lost between these two teams, even in a preseason game.
5) I’ve said it in this space before but it bears repeating: Shaun Livingston was suddenly inserted into a starting lineup he didn’t expect to be a part of, and looked like the best player on the floor on some nights. His ability to find teammates in tight spaces and score inside the arc shined in this preseason, and he’s this team’s backup point guard. He’s a major part of this team’s depth, and if he stays healthy all year, he’ll make a significant difference.
6) The Nets hit a ton of three-pointers in their preseason finale, shooting a scorching 17-27 from beyond the arc. Though they were unsustainably tremendous firing from deep, they showed why they’ll be so deadly from three-point range this season. They got lucky hitting a few contested shots, but the team scored numerous times off open looks with ball movement and in semi-transition. The Nets shot 35.7% from beyond the arc last season, good for 17th in the NBA. That number’s going up significantly this year.
7) Joe Johnson had some fun in isolation, which could be a bad thing long-term.
8) I still wish Mirza Teletovic was better. He’s got all the tools to be so fun and he just can’t make threes — the one thing the Nets signed him to do. On a night when everyone was hitting three-pointers left and right, Teletovic couldn’t find the net from beyond. Outside of a late-game dunk, disappointing.
9) Mason Plumlee threw back a Michael Beasley shot so forcefully that the apathetic Miami Heat crowd buzzed, if only for a second. He’s going to dominate in Springfield.
10) One last thought on the Nets’ depth: Alan Anderson led the team in scoring tonight, has a beautiful shot, can space the floor, and play defense. He may be this team’s tenth-best player. The Nets have three players that could compete for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. When the Nets need to rest their talent-laden starting five — which they will on many nights — they may not lose much of anything.