Good afternoon Nets Fans! Tonight the team will cross the Hudson River into Manhattan to take on the rival New York Knicks for the first and only time this preseason. After a disappointing trip to the Far East where the Nets dropped both games to the Rockets, they will look to get back on track tonight at MSG. With the presence of new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, I think this rivalry will have some added juice again, and that could start tonight. The Nets play the Knicks “for real” for the first of four times this season on November 30th.
A few things to keep an eye on tonight:
- The Power Forward. With Troy Murphy still sidelined Avery Johnson has clearly been unable to find a reliable starting power forward. He has used Kris Humphries, Derrick Favors and now Joe Smith at the starting “4” slot so far in the preseason. None of them have been productive at all, with Favors and Smith each putting up a bagel in the scoring department in the last game each started. Murphy should begin practicing this weekend but in these final two games I’m sure Avery would like to see some consistency out of the power forward slot.
- The Bench Besides T-Will. Terrence Williams was outstanding in China, averaging 18 points and 7 rebounds in over 30 minutes per game. But the rest of the bench was invisible in both games against Houston, scoring just 10 points in the 1st game and a pathetic 4 in the 2nd. The Nets need to see some more productivity out of guys like Farmar, Favors (or whoever is not the starting power forward) and Stephen Graham, in order to take some heat off the starters and not rely on those 5 and T-Will to handle all of the scoring.
- Assist-to-Turnover Ratio. Taking care of the ball will be one of the keys for this incredibly young team this season, and they have not done a very good job of it during the preseason. In the first game in China, the Nets only turned the ball over 11 times but had just 11 assists on 81 points scored. Although they upped their assists to 16 in the second game, they also turned the ball over 17 times. Tonight I’ll be interested to see if the Nets can keep their turnover numbers down while increasing their assist total.