Nets escape with slim victory over Celtics

Another preseason game has come and gone, and the Nets improve to 3-1 on their #WeTalkinBoutPreseason tour with an 82-80 victory over the Boston Celtics, keyed by two free throws from training camp invitee Chris Johnson with seven seconds left.

But as with most preseason games, the end result didn’t matter much: after all, the Nets crunch time lineup tonight was their third-string power forward, their rookie center who will spend most of the season in Springfield with the team’s D-League affiliate, and three training camp invitees. Winning was not the goal here, nor was it the point.

fall to 2-2 after a – loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics in overtime.

After visiting his former teammates in the Celtics locker room prior to the preseason contest, Paul Pierce took the floor for the first time in his career, preseason or otherwise, as an opponent of the Boston Celtics. If you expected an emotional Pierce on tilt tonight, you were sorely disappointed; Pierce played a quiet, all-around solid game matched up against Jeff Green, only hitting one pretty drive-and-finish layup in the first half, grabbing ten rebounds, dishing five assists, and playing like a fifth option otherwise.

The Nets ran out their pseudo-starters, with one new switch. Shaun Livingston started in place of the injured Deron Williams for the fourth straight game, and Andray Blatche played power forward to give Kevin Garnett a day of rest — a “reward,” according to Jason Kidd, a distinction Garnett assuredly disagreed with.

The Nets have a bevy of options when they rest their star power forward, and while Andrei Kirilenko has made his mark as a versatile weapon, it looks like Blatche may get the call as the starter when Garnett sits. Blatche has spent much of the preseason experimenting in an archetypically Blatcheian way, with weird shots, taunts, and isolations galore, but Tuesday night was a different story: in nine first-quarter minutes, Blatche excelled with smart ball-fakes, hit open shots, snared tough rebounds, and converted one nifty and-one layup barreling to the basket.

The experiment worked: Lopez finished with 20 efficient points in 26 minutes, adding three blocks and four rebounds, while Blatche scored 14 on 5-7 shooting with three steals. The two led the Nets in scoring.

It also didn’t hurt that 6’9″ Jared Sullinger measured as the tallest Celtics starter, giving the Nets motive to start two skilled seven-footers.

The Nets have made defense a point of emphasis throughout training camp and preseason, and though the Celtics have all the ingredients for an historically bad offense, the Nets starters still stuck to their defensive principles, downing the pick-and-roll to prevent easy drives and keeping Boston from getting easy shots in the paint.

If there’s such a thing as a test in preseason, it’s up next. The Nets have gotten relatively easy opponents thus far, with the last two particularly disappointing, but Thursday marks the return of the NBA champion Miami Heat to Brooklyn. It’s also the day Jason Kidd will have his jersey retired by the franchise. The team expects a sellout crowd that night. While Kidd may not play his starters extended minutes — it is still the preseason, after all — a victory wouldn’t hurt on a night like that.


  • The Brooklyknight continues to terrorize. During timeout entertainment, the mascot and Brooklyn Nets dancers all went up for various impressive dunks, except the BrooklyKnight couldn’t quite get his down, flinging the ball directly into the upper stanchion and getting it stuck below the shot clock. No, really. I’m not kidding:

  • Mason Plumlee had one “oh yeah this dude is way more athletic than a guy who sounds like he works in a cornfield in a Thomas Pynchon novel” moment in the first quarter, sprinting across the lane and swatting a Gerald Wallace into the Celtics bench with ferocity.
  • So many missed layups and three-pointers.
  • The Jason Kidd retirement banner has leaked. There are pictures online, if you’re curious and know how to Google. But here’s the thing: it’s a banner. It looks like all the other banners. It’s not special, other than it’s Jason Kidd. It’d be one thing if the banner was 50 feet long and had in all capital letters “WE DESPERATELY WANT JASON KIDD TO BE THE FACE OF EVERYTHING WE DO.” But it’s not.