The Nets round out their preseason schedule Wednesday night with a friendly against the Boston Celtics in the TD Garden. Coming off three straight preseason losses, the Nets look to bounce back against the top dogs of the Atlantic. In the team’s preseason home opener, the Nets fell to Boston 96-92, as the Celtics provided a balanced scoring effort, paced by Glen Davis with 20 off the bench. Look to see the continuation of a more solidified rotation and minutes indicative of what guys will be doing in the future as Avery Johnson prepares to make the transition to the regular season, starting next Wednesday. The Celtics will be short Jermaine O’Neal, Delonte West, and possibly Marquis Daniels because of injuries.
Here are a few things to keep your eye on during the game:
- Brook Lopez’s Presence. Even though he looks extremely skinny as a result of his bout of mono this summer, Brook Lopez has looked like he will continue to get better and flourish with the Nets this season. In fact, after the team’s last game against Boston in which Lopez put up 23 points, Shaquille O’Neal went so far as to compare the budding center to Tim Duncan — a compliment which holds water coming from a surefire first-ballot Hall of Famer. Watch to see how he carries himself of the accomplished Celtics frontcourt, even if it’s short Jermaine O’Neal.
- Taking Care of the Ball. The Nets looked sloppy with regard to ball control against the Knicks Tuesday, committing 21 turnovers against a team coached by Mike D’Antoni that, to put it kindly, puts defense on the backburner. Six of those came from Terrence Williams and another five from Lopez. In Lopez’s case, he was hounded all night with double teams and didn’t always find the right place for the ball. For Williams, it was a combination of his usual risky passes and just some ill-advised ones. Against Boston, the benchmark for defense in the NBA, the consequences for such carelessness could be more severe. Look to see if the Nets players running the point are more conservative with their passes and if Lopez can more effectively deal with the inevitable double teams, which brings me to my next point …
- Perimeter Shooting. The Celtics’ D is going to be stifling inside all night long, and Brook Lopez won’t be able to carry the load offensively under that kind of pressure. The Nets’ shooters — Anthony Morrow and Travis Outlaw, among others — will need to capitalize on open shots from the perimeter in order to create a scoring output capable of besting the Celtics.