Derrel "Jazz" Johnson, SNYNets.comNEW YORK — Already facing the challenge of hosting the 14-4 Oklahoma City Thunder, the Brooklyn Nets will have to do so without Brook Lopez, who will miss his third game with an ankle injury, and Reggie Evans, who has the flu.
Nets head coach Avery Johnson spoke about the loss of Evans. "That's a big blow to our team. Reggie is our enforcer, rebounder, our best pick-and-roll defender, and on and on. He's our fighter, litterally, and not having him in the lineup when you have Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Collison, we are going to miss him."
This is indeed a tough blow for the team. One of the advantages the Nets went into the season having was quality backups at the power forward and center positions. With Lopez out, Blatche is pressed into starting duty, and with Evans out, Humphries will also be forced to play more minutes. Look for the Nets to go small as well, with Gerald Wallace playing the four as well for stretches of the game.
I asked Coach Johnson about the challenge of facing the Miami Heat and Thunder, the teams that met in the 2012 NBA Finals, in consecutive games. "It's a challenge, one that we embrace."
When asked about winning the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for the first month of the 2012-2013 NBA season, Coach Johnson was very humble, deflecting the praise to others, including the owner Mikhail Prokhorov, general manager Billy King, the coaching staff, the team itself, and Brooklyn Nets fans at Barclays Center. "It has little to do with me and more to do with those other folks," he said.
The Nets face a tough challenge tonight, made tougher by not having their front court healthy, but the Nets hope that it can get a spark from Barclays Center's Nets fans and be lifted to victory.
The Nets are 7-1 at home and are looking to avoid its second loss at Barclays Center. It will be a tough order, though, as the defending Western Conference champion Thunder are one of the league's top road teams at 5-2 on the season.
Check back later for our pregame primer.