Josh Newman, SNYNets.comEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Gerald Wallace has never played with Joe Johnson, and Johnson has never played with Deron Williams. And neither Wallace nor Johnson has really played with Brook Lopez—who missed all but five games last season due to injury.
The point is that with the Brooklyn Nets opening their preseason Saturday evening against the Philadelphia 76ers in Atlantic City, there is not only curiosity with this revamped roster, but also plenty of uncertainty in the early going.
Because the Nets are beginning their preseason so late, they're going to experience a bit of a crunch. They are the last team in the NBA to begin preseason play, and as a result, they will open the preseason with three games in four nights. And, beginning on Monday evening, will play four games in five nights. In all, all six of their preseason games are being squeezed into a 12-day span.
Despite the unfavorable schedule, head coach Avery Johnson's hope is that everything will start to come together on Saturday.
"Our guys, we need to get some time with our guys on the floor. We haven't played together. For us, we gotta try to get a group together with six preseason games and try to get them on the same page. That shows that we are behind a lot of teams."
With no preseason games to this point, it has been a monotonous 10 days for the Nets. They've had nothing but practices since October 2. The only thing that has cured the boredom have been two lively scrimmages, one on the evening of October 5 and the other on Thursday morning.
Live scrimmages are a helpful tool in simulating an NBA game, but they cannot simulate the strengths of opposing teams.
"It's all about all of us getting on the same page mentally," Avery Johnson said. "Watching video, having a test, scrimmaging, drill work, strength and conditioning work, that's what this whole training camp has been about."
On Friday morning, Avery Johnson administered the first of four written tests on the team's defensive principles. Johnson asked the questions out loud and the players had one minute to write down their answers.
The test has not yet been graded, but Johnson joked around after practice about the moans and groans he heard from his players and about their frustration with the test. According to Johnson, its mostly due to a comprehension issues, though not necessarily because his players don't understand the defensive principles.
"Some said they didn't understand my questions," Avery Johnson said while trying to stifle his laughter. "I didn't know if that was an insult to my New Orleanian vernacular or if it was because of the comprehension of the students."
Taylor Downgraded for Next Week
After missing all of training camp with a strained right quadriceps muscle, rookie point guard Tyshawn Taylor went through his second full day of practice on Friday, but Avery Johnson has already tempered expectations on when he may play.
Taylor will go through shootaround on Saturday morning in Atlantic City, but will not play in either of the Nets first two preseason games. That rules him out against both the Sixers on Saturday and the Washington Wizards on Monday. What Johnson did reveal today, though, is that Taylor currently has a "50/50" chance of playing in the team's third preseason game on Tuesday, when they travel to Boston to take on the Celtics. According to Johnson, Taylor may play if he makes satisfactory progress.
Stackhouse, Brooks Still Out
Reserve guard Jerry Stackhouse missed a third straight day of practice with a sore right knee. Stackhouse missed practice on Wednesday while receiving acupuncture treatment on his right leg. He also sat out Thursday with the knee soreness. Friday was his third consecutive practice missed.
After Friday's practice, there was nothing new to report on MarShon Brooks. Brooks is still in a walking boot and is battling right foot tendinitis. Brooks may miss up to 10 days and—possibly—the entire preseason.