I was once again allowed to go to Nets practice today, and the theme of today’s practice was “change.” Before we get to the Kiki interview I got, I wanted to go over some things I noticed. First, it was a long practice, the media assembled around noon in the waiting room, we weren’t allowed in practice until 1. When everyone entered the practice, the team was still running through some things. I have only been to 3 practices this year, but I have to say the energy was different. Everyone on the court were going through in game situations, and they were going hard. The team looked like they were enjoying themselves as well. They were celebrating after every big play, and looking like a real team. Also, from what we saw, the team was doing everything together as one unit. When Lawrence Frank was coaching the team, he had everyone split up, but Kiki had everyone together.
The other thing that the media got to see, was Del Harris coaching the Nets up. The part that we got to see was the Nets working on their pick and roll defense and offense, as well as doubling the big man and how they handle getting double teamed. Coach Harris was stopping play every once in a while to correct something or to give the guys something to look for. It was awesome to watch. As for coach Kiki, he wasn’t just standing around, he was pulling guys aside and coaching them up individually.
After the practice, when the media gathered around Kiki, he went out of his way to tell everyone this is the team’s first real practice. “This is the first chance we’ve had to have a real practice.” Kiki also talked about the length of the practice, “I am not a proponent of long practices, but today we needed it.” So what did they talk about? Well Kiki went on to explain, “We tried to do a couple things a little bit differently,” he went on, “Obviously when you come in and the team is 0-18, you have to change some things, and we have.”
One thing that won’t change is Kiki urging his team to run. “I think we are a very good transition team when we get out and run. Devin is very good in the open court. Our guys are scorers and they can take it to the basket.” Meanwhile stopping the break seems to be a problem, and Kiki is looking to correct it. “Transition defense is something we need to work on. As you guys can see, it is going to take a little while.”
The rest of the interview was talking about the team’s injuries. Kiki opened up these talks by joking, “Everybody is still injured.” But he then got serious and talked about the three guys who are still battling back from injury.
Will he play Wednesday? “We don’t know, he practiced today, obviously he hasn’t played in 6-7 weeks. It takes more than 1 or 2 practices to be ready. He wants to play very badly, we just have to make a judgment call to see if it is the right thing to do,” Kiki said. I personally saw Yi running through some conditioning drills, and I was very impressed. He was running full speed with no sign of injury besides the wrap on his knee. He also looked very good when going through the live stuff as well.
Kiki talked about him briefly. “Jarvis practiced, got a good run in . We pulled him out a little bit early, as we should. It was great to see him back on the court.” Jarvis was pulled out before the media was allowed in, but Kiki is right, it is good to see him out on the court. Once Jarvis and Yi returns, the Nets have 2 shooters at their disposal.
CDR put to rest any chance of him playing. He told reporters that he was doubtful for Wednesday, but he went out of his way to say that he wasn’t worried too much about the injury. He said that it was ok because it was just an ankle and not his knee. I would expect him back by Saturday, but ankle sprains are funny. Kiki said that we will know more when they re-evaluate after the game on Wednesday.
An interesting note here. The Nets were going starters for second unit, and Rafer and Devin were on the court with Courtney playing the three. That could be how this team approaches playing the Timberwolves without CDR. If Rafer and Devin are both playing at the same time, who is the backup point? Terrence Williams was taking PG responsibilities for the second unit.