In what was supposed to be a quiet finale, having left Thaddeus Young, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Jack, and Joe Johnson in Brooklyn, the Nets took part in an offensive onslaught, didn’t play much defense, and lost to the Boston Celtics by the score of 111-105. Of course, several other Nets were missing through injury so they were a little light on bodies tonight. However, that allowed for some seriously long looks at a few potentially important pieces of Lionel Hollins’ rotation.
Unfortunately, it is another Rondae Hollis-Jefferson injury that will be the big takeaway from this final preseason game. Hollis-Jefferson left midway through the second quarter, this time with what the Nets called an upper respiratory issue. It’s been an undoubtedly difficult preseason for the rookie as he missed time following a sprained ankle against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 10th.
Bojan Bogdanovic’s form looks so effortless and smooth even when he misses. Whether Hollins likes it or not, Bogdanovic will have to shoulder a fair share of the scoring load this season, so hopefully he finds his touch sooner rather than later. After a rough shooting summer both with the Nets and Croatia, Bogdanovic will help fill the Deron Williams-sized scoring hole. The guard finished with a team-high 18 points on 6 for 13 shooting over a team-high 41 minutes.
Donald Sloan and Justin Harper are going to make roster cuts very difficult this week. Harper’s three-point shooting ability and gritty defense is reminiscent of Gerald Wallace — however, it seems like Dahntay Jones may have the end of the bench role sewn up. Harper finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds in 27 minutes, a wholly efficient night for the NBA journeyman despite accumulating six personal fouls.
On the other hand, Donald Sloan is making a serious play for the team’s third point guard spot and may have already passed Ryan Boatright in that regard. Sloan, on a number of occasions, made his way into the paint and fed some absolutely gorgeous passes to Jones and Robinson. With Jack in Brooklyn and Larkin sitting for the night, Sloan showed his slashing prowess and tossed five pretty assists along the way.
Again, the Nets struggled with communication on defense and were the subject of many highlight plays thanks to numerous bad beats on backdoor cuts and blown rotations. Despite offensively hanging around with their depleted rotation, the Nets gave up another 30 points in the first quarter and nearly did it again in the second and third. It’s just the preseason, obviously, but Hollins is not one to put up with poor defense. Just wait until he sees Andrea Bargnani in the low post…
Brooklyn’s lack of size clearly hurt them against the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, and Tyler Zeller. Of course, that’s not an issue tonight, but if Brook Lopez goes down at any point with an injury, they could be in some serious trouble in the paint. Ultimately, that Willie Reed injury may be much bigger than it looks…
Ryan Boatright is a fast athlete and his full range of skills were on display in the second quarter via a smattering of pull-up jumpers and fast break opportunities. Although that pull-up jumper was a staple during his time at the University of Connecticut, it seems as if he’s got some cold-blooded Jarrett Jack running through his veins, for better or for worse. It’s unlikely that Boatright will make the final cut, but he may have played himself into a contract elsewhere, whether that’s the D-League or Europe, however, remains to be seen. Boatright finished with 9 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds on 50% from the field.
Additionally, there were some strong minutes from Sergey Karasev tonight and he finally looked a little bit like his old self. Karasev nailed a couple of smooth threes and tacked on two assists as well. Although he and Bogdanovic don’t offer much defensively, they’re a terribly fun and confident duo to watch from behind the arc, despite finishing a combined 4 for 9. We noted before that Karasev would need some time to shake off the post-recovery rust and this is easily the most confident he’s looked since last March.
The Nets now have a long nine days off before taking on the potentially Rose-less Chicago Bulls in Brooklyn on October 28th. Will Bargnani be back? Which one of the point guards will remain? Who will nail down those final bench spots? These are all questions that we’ll have answered over the next week, so stay tuned to The Brooklyn Game for your updates!